AMD unveils 64-bit awareness campaign

PC manufacturers expect a marketing campaign announced by Advanced Micro Devices to improve awareness of the company's 64-bit...

PC manufacturers expect a marketing campaign announced by Advanced Micro Devices to improve awareness of the company's Athlon 64-bit processors among consumers and corporate buyers.

The campaign will put an AMD logo on PCs, software and peripherals, identifying them as being "ready for AMD64". It is being launched to raise awareness of the platform, which includes the AMD Opteron processor for servers and workstations, and the AMD Athlon 64 processor for desktops and mobile PCs.

The Athlon 64 processor is due to be launched on 23 September.

In addition to running new 64-bit applications and operating systems, the AMD64 platform can also run older software written for the 32-bit x86 processor architecture. This means users can upgrade their hardware while continuing to use legacy applications.

The campaign will help desktop, notebook and server manufacturers such Evesham Technology push AMD products in a market where Intel is far better known, said Carolyn Worth, a spokeswoman for Evesham.

"The general public have never had the opportunity to consider an alternative to Intel. AMD hasn't been so in their face, and it'll come down to how they put it across," Worth said.

"There aren't that many ways that people can enjoy 64-bit at the moment, because most things are still designed for 32, but the software is developing. ... People who play games will know about 64-bit, and there's always the go-faster brigade who just want the highest numbers," she said.

The campaign may also make AMD more attractive to the business market, Worth said. "The more savvy business and education buyers see the price advantage as very attractive, but many institutions are reluctant to move from Intel." 

Mesh Computers marketing executive Nick Walter said the campaign may shift ingrained attitudes in the business sector.

"Certainly the corporate sector knows and trusts the likes of Dell, and it's tough for us to come in with a viable offer," he said. The consumer market, too, "has been very much Intel-focused, but AMD has managed to take a massive market share. It can almost match on speed and it's the cost factor that wins."

Early adopters have been waiting for 64-bit for some time, and it will be a trickle-through process as innovators take it on and other consumers follow, Walter said.

On the server side, AMD faces more of an uphill struggle, and the logo campaign will just be one side of a push to improve AMD's profile, said IDC server market analyst Thomas Meyer.

AMD "needs to make a name for itself in servers", Meyer said. IBM's recent decision to launch a line of AMD servers will help raise its profile, he added, and Microsoft said it would work to develop 64-bit versions of its software that will support AMD processors.

However, while the seamless transition from 32-bit to 64-bit processing sounds good, "customers "aren't crossing the chasm that easily", Meyer admitted. With most companies coming out of two years of budget cuts in IT spending, they may be in a renewal cycle, but many are likely to go for what they see as the safe option, he added.

Initially, AMD will be competing against Intel's 32-bit servers, until it establishes an installed base and good reputation, and can then move to the 64-bit space.

AMD needs to concentrate on showing the cost benefits, reliability and scalability of its processors. "They need to get the A-brand server manufacturers and the application developers on their side. It takes a lot of time to create credibility. But creating hype and keeping the visibility up will help too," Meyer said.

Gillian Law writes for IDG News Service

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