RealTime IT News

AMD Snares Itanium Designer

AMD never misses an opportunity to slam Intel's high-end Itanium processor, but apparently that doesn't mean they don't respect the considerable engineering resources devoted to its design.

AMD confirmed the latter point with its surprise hiring of Sam Naffziger, one of Intel's top Itanium designers and Intel Fellow.

Naffziger, the now ex-director of Itanium circuits and technology, joined Intel in 2005 as part of a group of designers from HP where the Itanium was first developed.

He led the Itanium design team there for eight years. In addition to Naffziger, AMD hired several other Intel employees from a Fort Collins, Colo.-based Intel research facility, according to AMD spokesperson Cathy Abbinanti.

AMD has a design center in nearby Longmont, Colo., but Abbinanti told internetnews.com it's also looking for office space in Fort Collins where it plans to base a new design center.

For competitive reasons she declined to elaborate on what Naffziger or the other new employees will be working on specifically.

"We're sorry to see someone like Sam go, but we feel confident in the depth and experience of our Itanium development team," said Intel spokesperson Scott McLaughlin.

He said Naffziger was one of over 50 fellows at Intel; four others have attained the senior fellow honor. The news of Naffziger's departure was first reported this week by the Real World Technologies Web site.

"If Itanium becomes a success over the next five to 10 years, AMD might be looking to have an alternative design," Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds told internetnews.com.

"AMD could take some of the attributes of Intel's Xeon and Itanium and work those into an Opteron design that would be a true data center-class processor."

The latest Itanium version in the works, the dual-core "Montecito," has suffered a series of delays that has pushed its release date from 2005 to the second half of this year. It's not clear whether this recent loss of engineering talent will affect that timetable.

Earlier this month, HP announced it was pushing ahead with new versions of its Itanium-based Integrity server line based on a new sx2000 chipset.

HP said its new chipset and other improvements to the Integrity servers account for as much as a 30 percent improvement in performance over earlier models.