AMD Hits The Road with 64-Bit

After launching its new Opteron server processor last week, AMD is taking to the streets to preach the merits of 64-bit computing and backwards compatibility.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker kicked off a 32-city Tech Tour, with an inaugural event Tuesday evening in San Francisco.

Scheduled stops on the tour include Anaheim, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Cincinnati, City of Industry, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, Kansas City, Long Island, Miami, Minneapolis, Montreal, Newark, Orlando, Ottawa, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Tampa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington DC.

Centered on the theme, “Bridge the Future with AMD64 Technology,” the company is staging hands-on sessions for system builders and marketers to discuss AMD64 (also referred to as x86-64) for servers and workstations, as well as the upcoming AMD Athlon 64 processor for mobile and desktop computing.

“We believe AMD64 technology, with its superior performance and legacy 32-bit compatibility, is going to play a big role in helping system builders strengthen their business in the white box server and workstation markets,” AMD director of North American field marketing Robert Fuller said in a statement.

The company plans to welcome a wide variety of hardware and software vendors at the various locales. Representatives from ABIT, Albatron, Aopen, ASUS, Avnet, AVUS, D&H, Fujitsu, Giga-Byte, HP Invent, MA Labs, MSI, Maxtor and NVIDIA are expected to be on hand to discuss their products and system builder partnership programs.

Despite the large amount of 64-bit chips out there and market dominance by Intel , analysts are saying that AMD’s backward compatibility may be their saving grace.

“They’re not going to take tremendous share from Intel, but it is significant from AMD’s perspective,” Gartner analyst Joe Byrne told “The people who are attracted to Opteron are the same that are attracted to AMD today. The beauty of the AMD strategy is that success is not contingent on how fast they run but on how they allow old code to run faster. There has to be systems based around the Opteron and it has to be stable. Ideally the Microsoft and IBM would have compatible software and hardware available today. The second best scenario is to have support, which is what they did. It does look like they are being aggressive in pricing, but it will be awhile before we see the true industry impact.”

Meantime, CEO Hector De Ruiz is predicting the long-awaited recovery in the chip market should happened by the end of this year.

“We are expecting the market to be stabilizing and hopeful of a second half recovery,” Ruiz said during the company’s annual investor’s meeting. “We believe inventories today are appropriate with the business we have.”

Depending on whose stats you follow, analyst and trade groups are forecasting growth somewhere in the range of 5 percent to 15 percent for 2003.

AMD says it is counting on the TechTour to help increase its chances.

“We are committed to providing superior technology forums for the system builder community,” said Fuller. “In conjunction with our innovative, customer-focused products such as the AMD Opteron processor, the AMD Tech Tour is designed to help our partners achieve an ever-increasing level of success.”

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