AMD adds two new Opteron processors to line-up

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) on Tuesday announced it has added two Opteron processors to its roster that will allow users to migrate from 32-bit applications to 64-bit applications as needed.

The Opteron processor Model 146 is part of the Opteron 100 series that is designed for single processor, entry-level servers and for users running large graphical applications such as computer-aided design (CAD), said Steve Demski, product manager, Opteron One Series, in Austin, Tex. Model 146 competes directly with Intel’s 3.2GHz Pentium 4 chip.

The 846 model of the processor is designed for use in four- to eight-way capable servers such as large databases, and is ideal for large enterprises looking to consolidate servers.

“[Opteron] is unique in the market in that it has the 64-bit capability but it continues to run existing 32-bit code,” said Dean McCarron, principal analyst, Mercury Research Inc. in Cave Creek, Ariz.

AMD’s Demski said companies are looking to consolidate applications onto fewer servers. During the tech boom of the late 1990s, and in 2000 and part of 2001, it was trendy for companies to run each application on a different server but this approach didn’t provide great performance, he said.

That is why Opteron 846 is ideal – users can run 32-bit and 64-bit apps simultaneously, Demski said.

Its main competitor is Intel Corp.’s 2.8GHz Xeon MP chip, although Model 846 also competes with Itanium in the high-performance computing arena.

“The distinction between Opteron and [Intel Corp.’s] Itanium is that Intel’s approach to 64-bit requires a completely new instruction set, so it doesn’t run existing software at full performance,” McCarron said.

AMD is currently performing well in the 64-bit market, because of its approach – enabling users to migrate from 32-bit to 64-bit as needed, he added.

Because the new Opteron and Athlon processors are being released behind schedule, AMD’s marketshare has slightly dipped over the past year, McCarron noted. However, the company has stabilized at 15.7 per cent worldwide in the second quarter of 2003 compared to Intel at 82.5 per cent, he explained.

AMD first launched Opteron in April 2003. The company plans to release a 64-bit version of its desktop Athlon chip on Sept. 23, which will be compatible with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows platforms.

The Opteron 846 costs US$3,499 for 1,000 units, while the Opteron 146 retails at US$699 for 1,000 unit quantities. Systems built from Model 146 are currently available while those from Model 846 are expected to be on the market shortly, the company said.

AMD is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. For more information visit