Where in the World is Athlon 64?

AMD is going to some pretty great lengths to make sure people get excited about its upcoming 64-bit desktop chips.

Case in point, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker Monday launched a promotional contest highlighting its Athlon 64 Processor — scheduled for worldwide release September 23.

The company’s so-called “High-Tech Treasure Hunt is a virtual geocaching contest where participants answer clues to find 64 global locations. The spots are either significant to technology, 64-bit computing or AMD. According to the contest rules each correctly identified and submitted location enters eligible participants in a grand prize drawing for an AMD Athlon 64 processor-based desktop system and $6,400 cash. The contest wraps up on Sept. 15, 2003.

Geocaching is one of those growing trends among tech-heads that uses global positioning system (GPS) devices to get people out in the world. Enthusiast site Geocaching.com says the part science, part sport is practiced in more than 180 countries. AMD’s version however is done strictly in virtual mode with participants answering questions about various landmarks.

AMD is certainly gunning for landmark status with its new Athlon series. The company is reportedly spending six-figure numbers on its advertising campaign complete with a new logo and commercials targeted at office workers and gamers. The company is expected to release an FX version of the new Athlon shortly after September’s debut.

When it becomes available, the Athlon 64 boast 64-bit data and address paths and break through current 32-bit CPUs’ 4GB memory addressing cap with 40-bit physical (up to 1 terabyte) and 48-bit virtual (up to 256 terabytes) memory addressing space. The Opteron also supports three HyperTransport links, providing up to 19.2GB/sec of bandwidth, versus the Athlon 64’s single HyperTransport link for 6.4GB/sec of data transfer.

Analysts with Deutsche Bank Securities say AMD is counting on its relationship with Microsoft and the introduction of the Longhorn OS to be a major catalyst for 64-bit. The strategy may pay off big for AMD say analysts since Intel currently has not released its formal plans for 64-bit.

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