Friday, August 24, 2007

AMD Admits Technical Problems Delayed Quad-Core Opteron

Advanced Micro Devices, the world’s second largest maker of x86 microprocessors, has been receiving criticism for the postponement of its new quad-core chips as well as chips based on the new-generation micro-architecture for months. But only now, a little less than a month ahead of the launch the firm is ready to talk about its problems.
Chief executive of AMD admitted that the highly-anticipated quad-core AMD Opteron is half a year late to market because of a variety of technical issues. At the same time, he predicts that the battle between the chip code-named Barcelona and products by Intel Corp. will be very intense this fall and world’s first single-die x86 quad-core processor will not have an advantage AMD Opteron had over its rivals.
“We’re doing something that nobody has ever done. As strong as our competitor is, they have not done a [monolith] quad-core on a chip… Every time we ran into a gotcha (a technical glitch), it created a six-week or so hole in the schedule as we went back and fixed it. We hoped we wouldn’t get many of those, but in the Barcelona case, we got more than we thought. By the time we got through fixing them all, we were six months-plus late from where we originally wanted to be,” said Hector Ruiz, chairman and chief executive of AMD, in an interview with Mercury News.
Six months delay from the original schedule not only means that the company has missed its revenue predictions, but also indicates that the chipmaker will have to compete against Intel’s products that it did not originally target with the first breed of quad-core AMD Opteron “Barcelona” offerings. As a result, the competition between the new server chips will be fierce across all aspects, including performance, scalability, power consumption, pricing, manageability, cost of ownership and so on.
“I expect us to regain position in the server market because Barcelona is a very strong product. It won’t have the huge impact Opteron had. If you remember at the time Intel had no new product (to compete against it). So it will be more challenging. What we’re anticipating is that Intel and AMD are going to be very competitive in every space going forward. We’ve become big and strong enough and credible enough that we are going to flip back and forth in leadership,” Mr. Ruiz said.
Quad-core AMD Opteron processors code-named Barcelona are based on the company’s next-generation micro-architecture and will be produced using 65nm process technology. Among the highlights of AMD’s new chips the manufacturer lists shared 2MB L3 cache, 128-bit floating point units (FPU), SSE4A instructions, support for dual-channel DDR2 memory and other innovations. The first Barcelona processors are scheduled for shipments in August with product availability in September.

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