IBM, AMD to deepen Opteron ties

IBM and Advanced Micro Devices are expected to announce an alliance, August 1st at a New York event featuring Hector Ruiz, AMD's chief executive, and Susan Whitney, head of IBM's x86 server group, that will lead to mainstream IBM servers based on the Opteron processor. It's a further boost to chipmaker AMD and new blow to rival Intel's server business.

IBM and AMD are already partners--indeed, IBM was the first of the big four server makers to endorse the Opteron processor. In addition, the two companies share chip-manufacturing technology. However, there's room for improvement. While rivals Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems have given Opteron first-class citizen status, and even longtime holdout Dell has announced Opteron server plans, IBM's Opteron servers were geared for high-performance computing rather than for the mainstream business market.

August is a good time to buddy up with AMD. The chipmaker is expected to debut its new dual-core "Rev F" Opteron products on Aug. 15. The new processor generation will include virtualization features and will be easy to upgrade to quad-core models in 2007.

A deeper partnership between IBM and AMD could take several forms, ranging from joint technology development to work on mainstream dual-processor servers. It might even cover the creation of more-powerful multiprocessor machines that could rival IBM's current Intel-based 32-processor, the System x3950, formerly called the x460.

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