AMD ‘Hammer’s Down The 64-Bit Question

Advanced Micro Devices used its time Wednesday to say hello and goodbye to two important icons in its life.

The chipmaker is bidding farewell to longtime chairman and CEO W. Jerry Sanders. Sanders is stepping down this week from his post paving the way for AMD president and former Motorola exec Hector Ruiz. Sanders, who has been with the company since 1969, is expected to remain on as chairman through 2003.

But the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company is introducing Opteron, its new 64-bit computing chip formerly code named Sledgehammer. The chip is expected to go head-to-head against the Intel Xeon and Itanium processors.

That may be an uphill battle since Intel Tuesday made its new 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) Xeon processor available.

Based on AMD’s x86-64 technology, the company said the Opteron chip would run existing 32-bit applications towards the eventual transition to 64-bit technology.

The Opteron incorporates AMD’s HyperTransport technology. With three interconnects, the company said the processor would be able to provide up to 19.2 gigabyte/second aggregate bandwidth for server systems, six times the throughput of the majority of today’s server processors.

“The origin of the AMD Opteron brand name means, simply, the best. In choosing this name, AMD is conveying that the processor will give users the option to run either 32-bit or 64-bit applications, with optimal performance on both,” said AMD Computation Products Group VP Ed Ellett.

AMD’s newest processor is expected to do well especially with the news Wednesday that it has won a key endorsement from Microsoft . The companies said the Windows operating system will support the future 8th-generation AMD Athlon and AMD Opteron processors.

“Since the inception of the PC, hardware and software have been inextricably linked. The best advances in technology happen when the hardware and software are in sync. The union of AMD’s 8th-generation processor technology and a Microsoft Windows operating system built to support that technology lays the groundwork for broader industry adoption of 64-bit computing platforms, especially in the enterprise, and helps drive performance to stunning new levels,” said AMD Computation Products Group VP Dirk Meyer.

AMD has cleaning house of late. The company recently decided to enhance its Athlon processor and drop its low-end Duron chips.

The company said it plans to demonstrate its AMD Opteron dual processor-based server running a developmental 64-bit version of Windows at its annual shareholders’ meeting in New York City on Thursday, April 25.

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