AMD ‘Hammers’ Still on the Workbench

Advanced Micro Devices Friday said it would postpone debuting some of its 64-bit processors until later this year.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker is planning to unveil its next-generation, 64-bit AMD Opteron processor (code named Sledgehammer) for servers and workstations on April 22 in New York City running at speeds of 1.4GHz, 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz.

The company also said its AMD Athlon 64 processor for the desktop and mobile devices (code named Clawhammer) would not come out until September 2003.

Both of these chips were expected last year. No official reason was given for the delays, but the company has been working with Microsoft on its AMD Athlon XP processor (code named Barton).

“AMD believes the future of computing, from high-end servers to mainstream desktop and notebook PCs, will be based on pervasive 64-bit computing. We expect to work with our customers and partners to bring the benefits of 64-bit computing to end users worldwide,” said AMD executive vice president Rob Herb said.

The company said it expects its AMD Athlon XP processor 3000+ to come out on February 10 and the AMD Athlon XP processor 3200+ in mid-2003. The processors feature additional integrated cache memory. Where existing Athlon chips have a 256-kilobyte cache, AMD says Barton will store 512 kilobytes of data. The modified version also will have a bus that operates at a frequency of 333 megahertz, up from 266 megahertz.

When they are released, the Hammers will include the AMD-8111 HyperTransport I/O hub, the AMD-8131 HyperTransport PCI-X tunnel, and the AMD-8151 HyperTransport AGP3.0 graphics tunnel. HyperTransport technology helps slash system bottlenecks, boost efficiency and increase system throughput by reducing the number of buses.

The news is a setback for AMD, which was hoping to make a splash in the server sector and take some steam out of Intel’s market share. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant recently expanded its 64-bit Itanium 2 product line. Codenamed “Madison,” Intel said the first versions, currently in pre-production, are still slated for release this summer with 1.5GHz with 6MB on-chip L3 cache and Itanium 2 pin compatible.

Other 64-bit product brands already available include Hewlett-Packard’s PA RISC and Alpha chips as well as Sun’s UltraSPARC and IBM’s PowerPC processors.

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