AMD CEO Predicts ‘An Innovation Tsunami’

SAN FRANCISCO – Don’t tell AMD’s CEO Hector Ruiz that the long-awaited release of the chip firm’s Quad-Core AMD Opteron will keep it in the server game with arch-rival Intel.

“That makes my hair stand up,” Ruiz told a small group of reporters today ahead of the chip’s formal introduction later tonight. “I don’t know what Kool-Aid some of these analysts drink.” He then went on to list advantages he said will keep AMD  ahead of, not just even with, Intel .

Until benchmarks come out comparing the yet-to-be shipped Quad-Core AMD Opteron systems versus the Intel-based quad-core servers already deployed, direct comparisons are incomplete.

But Ruiz insists the Quad-Core AMD Opteron will have “outstanding performance” on workloads that are important to customers. Second, that the Quad-Core AMD Opteron will let virtualization be done more efficiently. While the speed of the processor was coming in somewhat less than expected when it was in development, Ruiz said the 2GHz frequency is only a start. “We’re bullish on where we’re taking it,” he said.

Of course competing with Intel is nothing new for AMD. Ruiz and Randy Allen, AMD’s vice president in charge of servers and workstations, noted what a difference this product launch is than four years ago when the first Opteron debuted.

“Our customers were hiding behind the curtain,” at the launch, said Ruiz, afraid of ticking off Intel by its participation. “There’s no such thing today.”

Allen said tonight’s event will feature a who’s who of the server industry speaking publicly in support of the Quad-Core AMD Opteron (or Barcelona, as it was known while in development).

The onset of more high-powered servers, based on multi-core processors from AMD, Intel and others, has led some analysts to predict server growth rates will start to tail off in the next few years. The reason is these servers are better able to exploit virtualization technology, which has helped many enterprises consolidate groups of servers into just a few.

But Ruiz strongly disagrees with forecasts of server sales decline.

“We see virtualization opening the door to let customers do more than they can do today,” he said. “I don’t see this negative view you’re going to need less servers. I think it will spur an innovation tsunami.”

As for Intel, Allen concedes the chip giant beat AMD to the punch with its quad-core offering and cost it market share. “We’re closing that opportunity for them with a superior product,” he said.

Servers based on the new AMD processor are expected to be available starting within the next month and by the end of the year from all the major vendors. Allen said AMD is in great shape to meet the demand for the Quad-Core AMD Opteron after “an insatiable” demand for the initial samples.

Of course you can expect Intel to battle to keep its dominant market share; AMD expects no less. “There is no question they’ve taken us a lot more seriously,” said Ruiz. “The price competition has been brutal and I don’t expect it to be much different. For the foreseeable future, aggressive pricing will continue.”

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