AMD looks at expansion into enterprise

GATINEAU, Que. – With the recent launch of new high- and low-end microprocessors, AMD is attempting to spread its wings into non-traditional markets.

According to Gary Bixler, North American regional marketing manager for the Austin, Tex.-based microprocessor maker, AMD is ratcheting up

its commitment to enterprise/commercial market, while still maintaining its focus on consumers.

Bixler lists consumer, media centre PC, gaming, commercial client and SMB client as the five markets the company is pursuing. This strategy is a far cry from the company’s roots as a retail/consumer or Intel alternative chip provider, he said.

Bixler made the comments at this week’s CompTIA Canada system builder’s conference.

AMD’s latest marketing and new product strategy received a boost from Hewlett-Packard Ltd. with an agreement that HP’s commercial server line will run on Opteron processors.This builds on AMD’s strategy to reach the enterprise after decades of playing solely in the consumer area, Bixler said.

AMD made a similar deal with Sun Microsystems early this year.

“”Sun and HP are expanding the product offering and growth out of the high performance technical cluster computing, which we established in the research labs and universities,”” Bixler said. “”Over the last year, we tried to position Opteron down market and now it is accepted in the mainstream.””

According to Evans Research, AMD had no share of the enterprise/commercial market back in 2003. But as of the third quarter of last year it held a 35 per cent share.

The new Opterons will feature the power-conserving PowerNow capability. Bixler did not have specifics, but he said the processors will improve on the power management of older CPUs, which were able to reduce power from 89 watts down to 35 watts.

“”This is important for data centres which are stacking servers to ceiling and have a power budget,”” Bixler said.

The new Opterons can, for example, work at peak performance during a work day and then cool down overnight.

PowerNow was first used in AMD’s mobile processors and monitors performance at a rate of 30 times per second. The technology can throttle down during off peak times and ramp back up in an instant, Bixler said.

AMD also released three Sempron models with 754 sockets, which are being positioned just behind the company’s Athlon 64 processors.

At the same time AMD is upgrading its on-chip virus protection. Bixler said virus such as Code Red, Slammer and Blaster can exploit a buffer overflow hole on all systems. AMD has partnered with Microsoft to provide chip-level anti-virus, but users must have Windows XP Service Pack 2 for it to work.

“”More than 50 per cent of the viruses last year were because of the buffer overflow hole,”” Bixler said. But he also warned that this level of protection is not a substitute for application level virus protection.

AMD Opteron processors will be available through Bell MicroProducts Canada, Tech Data Canada and Supercom.

AMD is about to embark on a four-city Canadian Tech Tour. Bixler calls these events the company’s face-to-face channel campaign. It starts in May and will hit Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

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