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Software delay shadows AMD launch
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Old 28th July 2004, 23:02   #1
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Default Software delay shadows AMD launch

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) -- AMD introduced a new line of low-priced desktop processors Wednesday, but the launch was overshadowed by Microsoft's delay of software supporting 64-bit extensions, a blow to AMD's higher-end chips.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD introduced last year its 64-bit architecture with Microsoft's support, but Microsoft (MSFT: news, chart, profile) has yet to release an operating system supporting the chips.

The Microsoft platform is considered important to the success of AMD's Opteron and Athlon 64 chips because it is so widely used and it will help validate the need for applications that can process 64-bit and 32-bit applications concurrently.

An operating system designed with both 64-bit and 32-bit applications in mind will be able to take full advantage of a chip's performance capabilities.

Margaret Lewis, AMD's software strategy manager, said Opteron and Athlon 64 both offer high performance on 32-bit applications regardless of what operating system is running.

"This doesn't really impact our sales or product plans," she said. "Most customers we work with today, while evaluating 64-bit technology, are still doing 32-bit work," Lewis said.

However, she stated customers seeking optimized performance for both 64-bit and 32-bit applications can use the Linux platform. Also, Sun Microsystems should have its Solaris operating system optimized to work with AMD's 64-bit chips later this year.

Opteron, targeted mainly at servers and high-end workstations, was the first 64-bit chip to be backward compatible with 32-bit applications. AMD launched it in mid-2003 and followed that up with the launch of Athlon 64 for desktop and mobile PCs.

Intel (INTC: news, chart, profile), AMD's larger and primary competitor, is readying 64-bit extensions for its Xeon server chips. The company has made no announcement about 64-bit extensions for the desktop.

Microsoft stated its Windows Server 2003 SP1 and Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems and Windows XP 64-bit Edition for 64-bit Extended Systems won't be released until the first half of 2005. The software was expected later this year.

"The delays are quality driven," a Microsoft statement said. The company needs more time for tuning and testing "in order to meet the high quality requirements of our customers."

I say Intel and MS are playing with AMD.

Opteron 165 (2) @2.85 1.42 vcore AMD Stock HSF + Chill Vent II
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