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AMD tools around with Hammer names

Metaron and Opteron are among the names the company is considering for its forthcoming 64-bit processors in its product line code-named Hammer.

AMD has filed trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for two possible processor names, preparing the ground for marketing its "ClawHammer" chip, which is expected to ship by the end of this year.

The applications for the names Metaron and Opteron were filed in March. They supplement applications filed last December for AMD Forteon, AMD Multeon and AMD Vanton. Also in December, AMD filed for the name variants AMD Metaron and AMD Opteron.

There is no guarantee that AMD will use these names, or use them for the "Hammer" line. Filing with the trademark office, though, is often an initial stage companies take before they adopt a name. Additionally, AMD went for the "on" suffix with Athlon and Duron.

Hammer and ClawHammer are both code-names.

ClawHammer is a new product line for AMD; it will launch alongside the flagship Athlon line. The Athlon brand has been maintained for a succession of different core technologies, but the Hammer line, of which ClawHammer is the first arrival, is expected to have its own brand.

Hammer is based on AMD's x86-64 instruction set, which runs both current programming code and 64-bit code, capable of accessing much larger blocks of memory. Sixty-four-bit software is designed for large databases and other high-end processing work.

The ClawHammer part will be aimed at the mainstream desktop market and will be essentially presented as "a very fast Windows XP engine," according to an AMD representative. It will support one- and two-processor configurations.

SledgeHammer, arriving next year, will support four- and eight-chip configurations, and will be aimed at the high end, currently dominated by RISC processors from the likes of Sun Microsystems and IBM, running proprietary Unix software. Intel is also targeting this lucrative market with its nascent Itanium chip.

AMD last updated its flagship line with the introduction of the Athlon in 1999 and followed Intel's shift from alphanumeric identifications to words that were designed to be more memorable. AMD trademarked several configurations of the Athlon name a few months before launch.

Athlon, which was supposed to evoke images of athletic performance, had previously been trademarked for use with freestanding office and home partition walls, and treadmills.

Metaron and Opteron do not have other trademarks to deal with, but the company is not so lucky with the other names. Vanton was trademarked in the 1950s as a brand for mechanical pumps, and Forteon is a 1980s trademark for additives in fibre-reinforced cement.

The AMD trademark filings were first reported by the AMD news site AMDZone.

Matthew Broersma reported from London.