AMD pushes back Hammer release

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) announced on 27 April that it would delay the release of microprocessors based on its 64-bit...

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) announced on 27 April that it would delay the release of microprocessors based on its 64-bit "Hammer" core until the second half of 2002.

The chip-maker's first 64-bit processors, which include "Clawhammer" and a higher-end chip called "Sledgehammer", were originally expected to ship in the first half of 2002. The company now plans to have samples of its Hammer chips available to manufacturers in the fourth quarter of 2001, with commercial shipments expected in the second half of 2002.

The delay should not pose a problem for AMD, according to Dean McCarron, a chip analyst at Mercury Research. "It's not like they're under any pressure to get this out," he said. "The only competing product is Intel's Itanium, and it's not really a competing product."

AMD's Hammer processors will be aimed at the lower-end of the server market, while Intel's Itanium processors will target more powerful, midrange servers, said McCarron. Both processors will also be used in workstations.

AMD said the delay will give it time to align the Hammer chips with new manufacturing processes under development, including its 0.13-micron manufacturing process and its silicon on insulator (SOI) technology. The company opened a manufacturing facility in Dresden, Germany in June 1999 to manufacture the processors. According to AMD spokesman Drew Prairie that facility is currently running at about 50% capacity and is expected to reach full capacity by the end of the year.

According to the latest figures from Mercury Research, AMD controlled 20.8% of the PC microprocessor market in the first quarter, compared to Intel's 77.5%. The delay should not affect AMD's share of the market, said McCarron.

At the company's annual shareholders meeting in New York, on 26 April, Hector De J. Ruiz, AMD's president and chief operating officer, said the company was satisfied with the progress it was making in its battle for more of the PC chip market.

"For the longer term, we are well along in the development of our eighth-generation processor core that will be the basis of the Hammer family," said Ruiz. "But that's a story for another day."

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