RealTime IT News

Opteron Seeing Double

More than a year after its debut, AMD is gearing up for some core shifts to its 64-bit processor families.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker said it has completed the design of its first dual-core 64-bit, x86 compatible chip, which it expects to debut in servers in mid-2005. A dual-core desktop version for high-end client PCs is also in the works and due out in the second half of 2005, the company said in a statement Monday.

The development is one in a string of advancements that AMD is touting this month to its server and desktop processors in an attempt to tighten up the gap in market share against rival Intel .

The ideal of a dual core Opteron is nothing new. Since the company first discussed its AMD64 (Hammer) technology publicly in 1999, AMD said it would someday support multi-core processors. Now that AMD is seeing early sales returns from its partners -- IBM, Sun Microsystems, and HP -- the company said it's now ready to move into the next phase.

"We anticipated an industry shift toward multi-tasking applications requiring the scalability that only 64-bit dual-core processors can provide," Dirk Meyer, AMD executive vice president Computation Products Group, said in a statement. "That is why years ago we designed AMD64 technology from the ground up to be optimized for multiple cores."

As for its roadmap, AMD said it will continue to enhance its AMD64 processors this year with a transition to 90-nanometer (nm) process and low-power technology. AMD said it is also working with IBM to build chips based on 65-nm processes in mid-2005. Those smaller processors are due out in products in 2006.

In a separate announcement, AMD revealed a strategic relationship with Broadcom that lets the Irvine, Calif.-based chipmaker develop chipsets that support AMD's Opteron processor architecture.

The partnership will focus on high-performance system input-output (I/O), storage management and control, and microprocessor technologies. AMD said original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Sun Microsystems have already signed up for initial samples, which are expected to be available in the fall of 2004.

In addition to Broadcom, AMD has signed up other partners such as ATI, NVIDIA, SiS, ULi and VIA Technologies to build core-logic technology to support AMD's Direct Connect Architecture.

AMD also offered up a new interconnect technology this week for its AMD-8000 series of chipsets. The devices for PCs, workstations and servers will now include an AMD-8132 HyperTransport PCI-X 2.0 tunnel.