AMD's Barcelona chip to get speed boost later this year

Clock speed of quad-core Opteron will be raised as part of effort to catch up to Intel

On the same day that Advanced Micro Devices officially released its Barcelona server processor, the company said it would have a faster version of the quad-core Opteron device out by year's end.

Initially, the top clock speed on the quad-core chip is 2 GHz. But Randy Allen, vice president and general manager of AMD's server and workstation division, said at the Barcelona launch event here Monday evening that the company will have a 2.5-GHz version ready for shipment in December.

The confirmation of the planned speed bump may have been the most significant bit of news out of the product launch, which was held at the Letterman Digital Arts Center on the grounds of the Presidio, a former U.S. Army base that now is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The announcement mostly featured a long list of executives from hardware vendors offering support and praise for AMD without taking any shots at its main processor rival, Intel Corp. That was left to AMD officials, but even they rarely if at all mentioned Intel by name.

Hector Ruiz, AMD's chairman and CEO, said the company's initial development in 2003 of an x86-compatible Opteron that could run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications raised the bar "for what an industry should expect from a processor company."

Ruiz claimed that the new Opteron would have "a similarly profound effect on computing," even though Intel >turned the tables on AMD and beat it to market with quad-core processors by 10 months. Last week, Intel released a new Xeon 7300 line of quad-core chips with clock speeds of up to 2.93 GHz.

Executives from IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems and Dell appeared at AMD's launch event in person or via video to announce plans to add the Barcelona chip to their server product lines, with shipments scheduled to begin as early as next month. Among them was Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell, who said his company intends to double its lineup of AMD-based systems by year's end.

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's president and CEO, said his company is aiming to use the quad-core Opteron to double its AMD-based server business. However, Sun in January announced a deal with Intel to develop a full of line of Xeon-based servers and workstations. That ended a two-year-old strategy under which Sun had exclusively used Opterons in its x86 systems.

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Patrick Thibodeau

Computerworld
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