AMD: Customers Want 64-Bit Computing

Customers will demand 64-bit computing, which until now has been reserved only for buyers of proprietary architectures, AMD’s CEO Hector Ruiz said Tuesday.

Speaking at the chipmaker’s launch event for its new Opteron 64-bit processor, the 57-year-old executive said customers are demanding greater performance because more powerful applications are driving demand. While unveiling the new Opteron for servers and workstations, he urged the technology industry to adopt to the latest computing demands in the industry.

“It is time for all us in technology industry to change our ways,” Ruiz told the crowd of more 300 or so media and analysts gathered here. “New technology should not introduce new barriers, it should knock them down.”

AMD is calling Opteron the world’s first 64-bit processor compatible with Intel’s industry-standard x86 architecture, and with the highest performing 2-way and 4-way processor for servers.

The launch of the 64-bit Opteron processor marks the first time the company has focused its guns on a market other than the personal computers. And it doesn’t come without a price. The Sunnyvale, Calif. chipmaker has weathered through several delays in its four-year mission to get the processor out the door.

But AMD’s launch also comes at a time when recession-weary IT buyers are tossing aside their costly RISC/Unix-based architectures in favor of the economical and scalable CISC, or x86, solutions that were long championed by AMD’s chief rival, Intel. And with Microsoft’s next-generation Windows Server 2003 slated for the launching pad later this week, IT buyers will have even lower entry points in order to take advantage of computing performance that was once reserved only for mainframes.

Other tech giants are expressing support for the new processor, such as IBM, which said it plans to offer a server product for high-performance computing based on the AMD Opteron processor. Microsoft also repeated its commitment to developing a 64-bit operating system for the processor, with a beta version available in mid-2003.

Other partners include SuSE and even Sun Microsystems, which has pledged support for some of its blade servers at the expense of its own RISC-based UltraSPARC processors.