AMD: Dual-Core Chip Right On Schedule


Racing with rival Intel to grab mind share in the dual-core processor space, months before either company will ship a product with the architecture, Advanced Micro Devices said it has conducted the first public demonstration of the technology. However, numerous issues, such as product pricing and licensing, remain up in the air.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD said Tuesday it demonstrated its own dual-core technology, using a Hewlett-Packard ProLiant DL585 server powered by four dual-core AMD Opteron chips, for a group of customers and partners.

Patrick Patla, director of server and workstation marketing at AMD, said the demonstration used all existing and available hardware and software and involved a bios update to the system that switched on the dual-core capability.

"We're online with our strategy, we're online with our plan," Patla said. "We're absolutely executing to our schedule."

AMD is on track to begin shipping its first dual-core processors by the middle of next year. Meanwhile, Intel, Santa Clara, Calif., demonstrated its own dual-core technology last week at its Intel Developer Forum. Intel is slated to ship its dual-core processors and multicore processors next year.

In the channel, the prospect of switching from single-core to dual-core chips is receiving a mixed reaction.

"I think that it will affect white-box builders who sell to the higher end of the marketplace," said Harold Bush, owner of Digital Brands, a Woodstock, N.Y.-based system builder and solution provider. "I have an architectural firm as a client. They're always looking for more speed, more power."

For VARs that cater to the general SMB market, however, it may be a tougher sell, Bush said.

Ben Williams, vice president of AMD's Enterprise Server/Workstation Business Microprocessor Business Unit, said the company is in talks with a number of ISVs and is trying to prod them into adopting a dual-core-friendly pricing structure.

"We want to have the conversation in place before the dual-core [systems] show up," Williams said. Implicit in AMD's concern is a fear that if software makers insist on charging users on a per-core basis, as opposed to a per-system or a per-user basis, such a licensing model would stunt the growth of dual-core computing.

Of the major ISVs, Oracle has said it would continue a per-core licensing strategy.

Bush said that type of controversy could loom as a threat to adoption of the new dual-core architecture.

"Just the fact that we're even having this conversation about licensing each core in the processor, it's crazy," Bush said.

Neither AMD nor Intel have provided much in the way of detail about their pricing strategy for dual-core chips, although one Intel executive said the company would likely put a premium on the new hardware once it begins shipping next year.