AMD is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its 64-bit Opteron processor this week, but executives are looking forward to what may be a more crucial time for the upstart processor.
While Intel's Extreme Edition is coming out soon but with crazy prices, AMD on Thursday sketched out its strategy for the PC and cell phone markets for the next two years at its annual analysts' meeting and disclosed its plans for another multibillion-dollar chip fabrication facility, or fab.
Early last week I received an AMD Opteron 240 and an Asus SK8N motherboard. I was so anxious to get Linux on it I could hardly sit still... A week later, Linux is on it, in 32 bit mode only, and my hard drive has informed me that if I reinstall again it is going to go on strike.
AMD's upcoming Athlon 64 low-end variants, codenamed 'Paris' and 'Victoria', will not be offered as 64-bit processors but as 32-bit upgrades to the current Athlon XP line. So claims Xbit Labs, having glanced at the chip maker's latest roadmaps.
The Inquirer features a long article on AMD Opteron and its potential.
Hewlett-Packard apparently slipped up and revealed some of the specifications for AMD's upcoming Athlon64 chip, a processor that HP seems to be preparing to use in its PCs. Although the specifications fit within the expected performance range for the chip, the 1.8GHz speed and 3100+ model number may begin to raise questions about AMD's ability to keep up with Intel, C|Net says.
AMD released the Athlon XP 3200+ for desktops, the last scheduled member of a chip family that helped turn the company's fortunes around. Benchmarks here ("it should have been called a 2800+").
TomsHardware has an extensive benchmark of the AMD Opteron system, Extremetech has a long analysis of the CPU itself, while NewsForge reviews SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8.0 on AMD Opteron hardware. Read more for the Mandrake press release about their 64-bit version of Linux for the Opteron.
With Opteron now officially set to debut at 1.6 and 1.8 GHz clockspeeds (and no 2 GHz model as initially hoped) discussions have resurfaced as to how well AMD is able to scale the Hammer architecture. 1.8 GHz, after all, is nothing new for the AthlonXP? AMD reached this speed nine months ago with the nuclear-furnace original-model 2200+ and shot nimbly past that speed once AMD revised their .13 micron process and cut their heat dissipation." Read the article at The Inquirer. Athlon64 benchmarks here.
Dirk Meyer helped rescue Advanced Micro Devices from a tight spot once before. Now the company is hoping he can do the trick again. In his interview to ZDNet, he talks about the Opteron version of Windows, the Linux support for it, Athlon64 and more.
The Inquirer reports that SuSE is ready to release its full X86-64 version of Linux, version 8.2, quite a time before the official launch, for the AMD Opteron architecture. Additionally, MandrakeSoft released their Mandrake Linux 9.0 version for Opteron recently. However, Microsoft has yet to set a date for Opteron 64-bit support, while it will roll out specifically for Itanium two high-end versions of its Windows Server 2003 operating system, its first major server OS update in three years.
From Ars Technica: "The present article outlines what AMD hopes is the next step in x86's evolution: x86-64. As we'll see, x86-64 is more than just a 64-bit extension to the 32-bit x86 ISA; it adds some new features, as well, while getting rid of some obsolete ones."
According to heise.de and news.com, AMD finalized their CPU roadmap this Friday. Opteron is scheduled for April, Athlon 64 for September. The Barton core will debut on Februar 10th in the Athlon XP 3000+. The Barthon increases the L2 cache from 256 (Thoroughbred-B) to 512 kByte, and will probably run only with FSB333. A Athlon XP 3200+ will probably appear by the middle of the year.
AMD executives reiterated that the company is focusing on the server version of the Opteron processor, but that the 64-bit Athlon 64 will still appear in 2003."You saw our financials; I'm not going to lie to you. It doesn't make a lot of sense to build a new processor for a niche market," said John Crank, senior brand manager for desktop product marketing for AMD's Computation Products Group. Although PCs certainly dominate the computing landscape, Crank and other AMD officials said they believed servers and their applications would be better positioned to take advantage of the Opteron's capabilities at launch, rather than PCs.
Chicobaud writes: "The two big companies anounced a combination of efforts in developing new high performance CPU fabrication aiming 65 and 45 nm (nanometers) in order to lower power comsuption and improving performance." Read the press release at the AMD website.
AMD said on Tuesday that it would embrace a strategy of developing processors for a wider range of products outside computers and called on the industry to focus on user needs rather than creating "technology for technology's sake." Our Take: In the last year it has been made clear that AMD could no longer outpace Intel in the MHz, speed and power consumption race of PC CPUs. Even the highest end models of the new AMD Opteron and its desktop version, Athlon64, which are to have a modern 64-bit core, according to SPEC benchmarks they will not be the speed leaders by the time they will come out (Q2 2003), bringing AMD to yet another race against Intel's Xeons/P4s. Oh well, shift happens.
"Microsoft is playing wait-and-see with AMD's 64-bit Opteron processor. The company has no definite commitment to ship a version of its .Net Server operating system for the new processor, though both will be available at the same time, around April of 2003. The stance was laid out at Microsoft's IT Forum event in Copenhagen on Thursday by Microsoft's Windows supremo." Read the report at ZDNet.UK. AMD does have samples of Windows 64bit for their new processors though.
AMD is showing off at Comdex a prototype 64-bit Windows OS running on its upcoming 64-bit Opteron processors. The demo units are running Information Server (IIS), 64-bit Terminal Services and 64-bit Microsoft Internet Explorer. Also they're running 32-bit Office XP over the ProtoWin-64 - the demo shows interoperability between the 32-bit and 64-bit apps, AMD says.
Read the five newly released AMD x86-64 architecture tech documents in PDF format.
AMD tried to re-claim the performance leadership with the release of the 2600+ and 2400+ versions of its AthlonXP CPU. While AMD officials claimed that the new chips outperform other PC processors, ExtremeTech testing doesn't give the AthlonXP a definitive edge. AMD also reworked its "model number" performance ratings to better represent performance, executives said. In other hardware news, Sun released a new, budget-minded Unix workstation on Tuesday, mamed Sun Blade 150. But as its influence grows in the Unix market, the market itself is dwindling, C|Net says.