Dell and AMD hint at chip tie-up

Dell is closer to bringing on Advanced Micro Devices as a second chip supplier after the introduction of the company's 64-bit...

Dell is closer to bringing on Advanced Micro Devices as a second chip supplier after the introduction of the company's 64-bit chips for PCs next year.

Rumours have circulated for years about Dell purchasing chips from AMD as well as Intel, but until now company executives have never confirmed such a deal.

Both AMD's chairman "Jerry" Sanders and Dell chairman and chief executive officer Michael Dell re-ignited such speculation with comments made at the Merrill Lynch Hardware Heaven conference yesterday.

The executives said AMD's 64-bit family of chips, code-named Hammer, could be the first AMD products to make it into Dell's hardware line-up.

"We are very interested, and we are looking," Dell said during a keynote presentation. "There is not much more to say," Dell paused, " . . . "in public."

"We are very encouraged to see the innovations that are going on, not only by our current supplier but also future, potential suppliers."

AMD and Intel are working on 64-bit processors that can handle bigger chunks of data than do the 32-bit processors used in PCs and some servers. The chipmaker chose to adopt a 64-bit architecture that did not require developers to alter their 32-bit software to run on the Hammer chips.

Intel's 64-bit Itanium chips have a new architecture that will run 32-bit software only at reduced speeds.

Although Intel has Itanium, it is also reported to be working on a 64-bit chip that would run 32-bit software with no penalty. In an interview, Dell indicated it would be this chip - code-named Yamhill - that would be sold along with Hammer in Dell PCs next year. Dell said he does not expect Itanium to be used in PCs "anytime soon".

When asked in an interview which chip his company would choose, Dell said, "It does not have to be either-or," indicating the company might offer both.

In another interview, Sanders said he expected all major PC makers to ship both AMD and Intel 64-bit products.

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