AMD launches Opteron

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. launched the Opteron microprocessor for servers and workstations on Tuesday, marking its debut into the 64-bit market. And while the company will make its presence known with this announcement, one analyst noted that the company has some work to do in the Canadian market.

The Opteron chip, designed to support the x86-64 instruction set architecture (ISA), offers backward compatibility by running 32-bit and 64-bit applications simultaneously.

The processor launch is a push for AMD toward the corporate market, said Toronto-based Eddie Chan, research analyst, hardware, with IDC Canada Ltd.

AMD’s Opteron is going to accelerate the market, Chan said, adding that the processor “creates an easier migration path to 64-bit computing, and that’s really geared toward enterprise markets.”

The problem is that the 64-bit might not necessarily penetrate the Canadian market, which is generally composed of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), Chan said.

“Canada itself is the SMB play, we do have some large players, but there are very few of them in Canada,” he said. “There aren’t really enterprises in Canada that would need this kind of processing.”

While enterprise companies need all the horsepower they can find, “SMBs on the other hand, are more adequately covered with less,” Chan said. “There is still a long way for AMD to go in terms of mass adoption [in Canada].”

The other glitch in AMD’s attempt to enter the enterprise is the strong competition it will get from Intel’s 32-bit Xeon processor.

Chan said the Xeon more than adequately covers the enterprise, but he noted AMD’s new player on the scene will create some pricing pressure for Intel.

In order to give the new chip some leverage within the enterprise, the major players need to adopt the Opteron platform, he added.

“You need a vendor to bundle it and you need to ink those deals,” he said.

So far some of those big players have announced an interest in supporting AMD’s Opteron. Companies supporting the processor include Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Oracle Corp., Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp. [Please see SuSE shipping Opteron version of OS.]

Chan also said if AMD had more of a presence in Canada, in terms of having a head office north of the border, it would help the Opteron processor chip thrive in this country.

“Intel has a shop here and a country manager that is out there in tune with the clientele and there’s a face to Intel in Canada,” Chan said. “[AMD], located down south, is trying to make a local presence. Give them time.”

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