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AMD opens Windows for Opteron

Advanced Micro Devices demonstrates Windows running on its forthcoming Opteron chip and, in related news, announces $300 million to $600 million in charges for the fourth quarter.

Advanced Micro Devices on Monday is demonstrating a working version of Microsoft's Windows for its forthcoming Opteron server chip.

At Comdex Fall 2002 in Las Vegas, AMD is showing off a prototype of the special 64-bit version of the operating system designed to work with Opteron.

AMD's Opteron chip won't ship until the first half of 2003, but it's an important part of the company's strategy to address the business market. That's because AMD has been marketing the chip as a less expensive alternative to other 64-bit server chips such as Intel's Itanium.

AMD CEO Hector Ruiz is expected to touch on its plans to attack the business market during a keynote speech Tuesday at the show.

To add weight to its demonstration, the company is showing the 64-bit Windows/Opteron server combination running 64-bit versions of Microsoft's Internet Information Server and Terminal Services. It is also demonstrating the machines running a 64-bit version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer and using a regular 32-bit version of Microsoft Office XP.

"Tomorrow's systems based on AMD Opteron processors will allow customers to migrate to 64-bit computing while maintaining 32-bit compatibility, protecting our customers' technology investment," Marty Seyer, vice president of servers for AMD, said in a statement

Microsoft and AMD went public in April about their plans to work together to develop the new operating system for Opteron.

The addition of 64-bit addressing, one of Opteron's most important new features, will offer a performance boost for servers. Using technology AMD calls x86-64, AMD added several new instructions to the current x86 processor architecture boosting its chips to address 64 bits of data. The move enhances performance for servers by allowing them to address much larger amounts of memory than current AMD Athlon and Intel Pentium x86-based chips, which address 32 bits of data. That means a server can use a much larger amount of RAM, decreasing access times by minimizing its need to seek out data on a hard drive.

The x86-64 technology allows AMD chips to support both 32- and 64-bit addressing.

Separately, AMD announced that it will take a $300 million to $600 million charge during the fourth quarter related to restructuring. The company's restructuring plan, which includes 2,000 job cuts, is designed to lower costs. AMD will take an additional $263 million charge related to taxes, the company said.