New AMD chip to compete with Intel

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Inc. launched a high-powered microprocessor today that the company says will speed the migration of federal agencies and other organizations to a 64-bit architecture.

The new processor, called Opteron, is fully backward compatible with existing 32-bit applications. That differentiates it from Intel Corp.'s Itanium chip, which uses a different architecture, technology analysts say.

Opteron is already being used in a massive 10,000-processor supercomputer that Cray Inc. is building for the Energy Department's Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.

NASA uses earlier AMD chips in clusters, and the Defense Department and other agencies have expressed interest, according to AMD officials.

AMD expects Opteron to have broad appeal in the high-end computer market, said Rick Indyke, the company's federal government business development manager.

The processor is suited for "anybody who's got large applications [and] 32-bit apps on the verge of pushing the limits," he said. "For the first time, we're offering customers a choice as they begin to make a move into the next generation of technology."

The company also plans to market the new processor as a more versatile replacement for proprietary Unix processors, such as Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris, Indyke added.

AMD launched the Opteron processor at a New York event flanked by supporting partners including IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

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