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AMD price cuts spark new Opteron chip rumours

Benchmark results for unannounced Opteron processors posted on Advanced Micro Devices' website, coupled with steep price cuts on...

Benchmark results for unannounced Opteron processors posted on Advanced Micro Devices' website, coupled with steep price cuts on the Opteron line, indicate that AMD may introduce three new Opteron chips in the coming weeks.

AMD has Composite Theoretical Performance (CTP) benchmark results for the nine previously announced Opteron processors posted on its website. But results for the unannounced Opteron 146, Opteron 246, and Opteron 846 processors are also listed on.

The new processors are expected to offer just speed increases over the existing Opterons, with no major changes to the cache or architecture.

An AMD spokeswoman declined to comment on unannounced products.

On Monday, AMD cut prices for several of its processors, but the Opteron prices declined sharply. The Opteron 144 now costs $438 in quantities of 1,000 units, down from $669.

The price of the Opteron 244 also declined from $794 to $690 on Monday, but the price of the Opteron 844 remained at $2,149. Price cuts are generally an indication that a chip maker is planning to introduce a new processor.

The Opteron has been out in the market just about a full quarter since its launch in April, and performance reviews have been positive so far, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst with Mercury Research.

In the last quarter, AMD shipped roughly 8,000 to 10,000 processors, which falls in line with Mercury's expectations, McCarron said. Server customers are slower than PC users to adopt new products, because most businesses insist on a testing and validation programme before adopting any technology that will run their business applications.

Support for the Opteron should continue to grow when Microsoft releases the Opteron version of Windows Server 2003, McCarron said. A production version of the operating system is expected to be out before the end of the year.

AMD will release the desktop version of the Opteron, the Athlon64 chip, on 23 September.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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