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Firms tout Apache support for AMD chip

Red Hat and Covalent Technologies are developing important Internet software, the Apache Web server, for AMD's coming 64-bit Opteron processor.

LAS VEGAS--Red Hat and Covalent Technologies are developing important Internet software, the Apache Web server, for AMD's coming 64-bit Opteron processor, the open-source companies said Monday.

The move will be an important step in making a full complement of software available for the new chip, which is due to arrive in the first half of 2003 and will compete with Intel's Itanium and Xeon products. The companies announced the move at the ApacheCon conference in Las Vegas, taking place a few hotels away from the Comdex trade show.

Opteron is an extension of the common 32-bit processor architecture, the basis of chips such as AMD's Athlon and Intel's Pentium. Opteron, though, will come with 64-bit abilities, enabling it to address larger amounts of memory. Intel believes extensions to the 32-bit family won't be good enough to last for the next decade and more of chip developments. It's pushing an entirely different architecture for 64-bit chips: Itanium.

In order for AMD's Opteron processor to be relevant, enough compatible software must be available. The chip does have the benefit of being able to rely on the existing array of 32-bit programs, but AMD has been funding a version of the Linux operating system for Opteron, and running Web sites powered by the Apache Web server is one of the most popular server jobs to run with Linux.

Red Hat is the dominant seller of the Linux operating system. Covalent Technologies sells enhancements to Apache and employs several of the software project's key customers.

"Apache is a very widely used Linux-based enterprise Web server application," Marty Seyer, vice president of AMD's server business, said in a statement Monday, "and we are working with two leaders--Covalent and Red Hat--to offer simultaneous high-performance 32- and 64-bit computing to our customers."

But SuSE, the second-ranked Linux developer and the company that did much of the work creating an Opteron version of Linux, wasn't impressed with the announcement.

Holger Dyroff, general manager of SuSE-Americas, said his company already has finished a 64-bit Opteron version of Apache and Linux. "We have an Apache 64-bit today," he said in an interview. Indeed, the company's Opteron version of Linux is finished and only awaits the release of the chip.

Nearby at Comdex, Microsoft demonstrated a prototype of its Windows .Net Server 2003 running on Opteron.

In an interview Monday, Bob O'Brien, group product manager of the Windows .Net Server division, declined to say when the Opteron version would be shipped.