Major new products from AMD will provide the technological underpinnings for a more ambitious server initiative, though. The company will release a new high-end "Palomino" chip that, when paired with the AMD-760MP chipset, will enable two-processor servers and workstations.
In addition, more powerful AMD chips that can process 64-bit instructions are due in the first half of 2002, a spokeswoman said. The Clawhammer, targeted for single-processor and two-processor servers, is expected in the first quarter of 2002, while Sledgehammer, for four- and eight-processor servers, is due a quarter later.
Designing the underpinnings for multiprocessor systems is tough, though, as Intel can attest. It faced numerous delays with its "Profusion" chips that enabled eight-processor Intel systems. Multiprocessor systems require special-purpose chips to link the CPUs together and to connect them to memory and other parts of the computer, a comparatively new area for AMD.
Reinforcing the technology is the addition of new personnel at AMD. The company has hired Kevin Knox, formerly an analyst with Gartner, to help plug its products to corporate customers. And leading the server and workstation marketing effort is Ed Ellett, who previously promoted Compaq Computer desktop PCs.
AMD has a handful of server partnerships, but some of the news of late hasn't been good for the company.
Allies include U-tron Technologies and Net Integration Technologies--a far cry from the biggest names such as Compaq, Dell, HP and IBM that sell Intel servers.
Cobalt Networks, acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2000, sold AMD-based servers for dishing up Web pages. But the newer Cobalt products are based on Intel's Pentium chips. And Penguin Computing said it was dropping Athlons from one server line because it didn't support two-processor systems.
AMD thus far has only a "minimal" presence in the server market, said ARS Market Intelligence analyst Steve Greenberg, but the NEC deal will help. "This recent news by AMD is a strategic move in which it will enable the company to penetrate into the corporate enterprise market."
NEC, though, isn't the strongest of allies. The company is the ninth-largest server seller worldwide, with the vast majority of its sales in Japan. And NEC's PC shipments slipped 0.5 percent to 1.5 million units in the first quarter, according to recent figures from Gartner.
But AMD has strong allies in the desktop market, Andrade said, which could prove fruitful in its server push. In Japan and Europe, NEC and Fujitsu have close ties with AMD, he said.
"They have relationships with every single important (computer maker) out there but Dell," Andrade said.
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