AMD's Processor goes 'Public'

Government and military customers now have a new high-end processor at their disposal: AMD's 64-bit Opteron processor. The key to the effort is a pledge by AMD to extend to five years the life cycle of Opterons it sells to embedded developers.

"Before we had this program, we would walk into some customers, and they'd say, 'We really like your product, and when you have long-term availability, come back to talk to us,'" says David Rich, director of 64-bit embedded markets at AMD.

This gives vendors designing products for the embedded market the assurance from AMD that they will be able to get supplies of the processors they need for a lengthy period of time. Long product life-cycles, which aren't a factor in the fast-paced PC world, are a deal-breaker in the embedded arena.

To date, AMD's embedded efforts have centered on a mix of 16- and 32-bit microprocessors. By bringing Opteron into the embedded arena, AMD is serving notice that it believes the market is ready for heavier-duty 64-bit processing.

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"These are all applications where the customers are very performance-hungry," Rich says, referring to the storage, imaging, high-end printing and other embedded applications, where he expects Opteron to see service.