RealTime IT News

AMD Dual-Core Opteron to Debut in NY

UPDATED: AMD will have its first dual-core Opteron processor ready to ship later this month, internetnews.com has learned. It will also show off some of the glitzy customers using its Opteron chip at a star-studded event.

Sources close to the process said the chipmaker has been shipping production samples of dual-core Opteron processors to partners since January and plans to introduce a dual-core processor line-up at an event on April 21.

On April 21, on-demand movie provider Encore/Starz and movie studio DreamWorks will join AMD Chairman and CEO Hector Ruiz and other company executives in New York to celebrate Opteron's second anniversary. The guest list will include hardware partners IBM, HP, and Sun Microsystems. Each of the vendors is expected to announce new products containing the new dual core Opteron. Customers should be able to order two-way servers, four-way servers and two-way blades at the launch, sources said.

A dual-core product launch this month means AMD is at least six weeks ahead of its previously estimated production schedules -- long before Intel's dual core Xeon processors are scheduled to hit the market in May.

The source said that AMD was very conservative and hedged its bets with its timeline, just in case problems began cropping up. When those didn't happen, AMD decided to go ahead with its supply chain and trump its closest rival, Intel .

A spokesman for AMD said any news of dual-core Opteron product available before the company's stated mid-year availability target is merely "rumors and speculation."

Dual-core processors, which consist of two cores on one piece of silicon, are widely seen as a promising way to boost computing power, allowing servers, workstations and PCs to perform more functions simultaneously. Both AMD and Intel are choosing the path of dual-core chips to meet the continuing need for faster processing cycles, as single-core silicon begins to hit a wall of heat dissipation and power consumption.

One key indicator that AMD was getting close is its willingness to sit down with its closest allies. The chipmaker has scheduled an Executive Forum starting this Sunday in San Diego. AMD executives will be on hand to review the company's marketing plans for its current processor family, as well as its upcoming server chips. Key allies like Microsoft , ATI, Gigabyte, MSI, Phoenix, TYAN and VIA are scheduled to attend the four-day event to hammer out any last-minute strategies and collaborate with AMD as it prepares to stock its own supply chain.

The long-awaited dual-core Opteron is expected to show up in one-socket to eight-socket server and workstations. Because AMD uses third-party chipsets and will use the same socket design for its dual-core chips as it does for its single-core chips, OEMs will only have to upgrade the firmware.

AMD has said the first batch of the new chips will have two cores running at 1.8GHz. The new Opteron family is expected to take advantage of AMD's HyperTransport technology and Direct Connect architecture. AMD spokesperson Phil Hughes said the dual-core processor is being processed at AMD's 200-milimeter wafer fabrication plant in Dresden, Germany.

AMD first demonstrated its x86 dual-core processor in August 2004, showing an HP ProLiant DL585 server powered by four dual-core Opteron chips.

Intel's chance to shine won't come until the first quarter of 2006. That is when the company is expected to have its dual-core lineup in full production including its dual-core Xeon, Code named Dempsey, along with its dual-core Pentium 4, code named Smithfield, and its Pentium M dual-core mobile processor, code named Yonah.

"AMD is early, but Intel already announced it won't volume-ship until it produces its 65-nanometer chips, due to heat," Rick Whittington, an industry analyst with Caris & Company, told internetnews.com. "AMD at 90-nm has acceptable wattage but is already hinting that it may produce its 65-nm chips earlier than what was said just a couple months ago."

Corrects the location of AMD's fabrication plant.