The battle lines have been drawn in the mid to high-end server market as AMD takes on rival Intel with the launch of Opteron.
According to industry sources, AMD has the advantage and could weaken Intel’s stranglehold on the market by offering customers an easier transition from 32-bit to 64-bit architectures with a processor that handles both forms of computing.
Last week, the AMD processor, dubbed Hammer, hit the market with the backing of major PC vendors IBM and Fujitsu Siemens and software giants Microsoft and Oracle.
Dave Everitt, product marketing manager at AMD, suggested manufacturers in the server space were a “conservative bunch” and the company was offering choice with the least risk.
“We have come up with an architecture which provides 32-bit performance today and smooth migration to 64-bit in the future. This is good news for the customer as it is painless,” he said.
Everitt added that users looking to migrate from the Intel Xeon 32-bit architecture to the Itanium 64 would need completely different hardware.
“This is the first time we have got scalable architecture that can go through to eight-way servers, and we have done it in such a way that the infrastructure costs are greatly reduced,” he said.
One source claimed that although the Opteron chip was delayed twice before it hit the market — before the end of last year and at the start of this year — AMD could damage Intel as long as it forecast unit sales correctly.
“The war is hotting up like never before and the issue is now based on whether AMD can deliver on its promises, and I think it can,” he said.
Another source argued Intel had had the server market to itself for far too long: “This is a huge threat to Intel and we are seeing an interest in Opteron from corporates.”
John Bainbridge, Intel sales director for the UK and Ireland, revealed he was watching the developments with interest, but stressed the vendor had sold 64-bit systems for some time and the company was “comfortable with [its] product offering”.