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AMD adds Opteron to embedded processor lineup

Move represents expansion of long-running rivalry with Intel, which still dominates the market for x86 chips.

SAN FRANCISCO--Advanced Micro Devices has added another processor line, its high-end Opteron family, as a new option for embedded computing devices such as telecommunications servers and medical imaging systems.

Iain Morris
Iain Morris
senior VP,
Advanced Micro
Devices

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chipmaker already sells lower-end chips--the Alchemy and Geode lines--for the embedded computing market. Now, several specific Opteron models, or equivalent replacements, will be available for at least five years as well, a necessary guarantee for manufacturers of embedded systems, which often sell the same designs for years, Iain Morris, senior vice president of AMD's personal connectivity solutions group, said on Monday.

AMD hopes customers will use the chips in higher-end embedded computing products such as storage systems, network security devices, telecommunications servers, unmanned military robots and medical-imaging machines.

"These systems take longer to design and qualify. They have long product life cycles," Morris said at a news conference being held in conjunction with the Embedded Systems Conference taking place here this week.

The move represents an expansion of AMD's long-running rivalry with Intel, which still dominates the market for x86 chips such as Opteron, Pentium and Xeon. It also means more direct competition with Via Technologies, which offers x86 chips for embedded use.

AMD's promise of lengthy availability is accompanied by corresponding guarantees from Nvidia, ATI Technologies and LSI Logic, which supply electronics that work alongside the central processor chip.

Among AMD's customers for the chip is Sun Microsystems, which uses Opteron in Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture systems.

The availability policy applies to Opteron models 852, 252 and 152. AMD doesn't guarantee that the exact Opteron model a customer chooses will be available for five years, but it promises it will offer one that runs the same software and has the same size, electrical connection and power demands.