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Opteron catches on at Fujitsu Siemens

The European PC maker unveils the Celsius V810, a workstation capable of harnessing two of AMD's 64-bit-capable processors and designed for tasks like computer-aided design.

Fujitsu Siemens Computers on Tuesday made good on a promise to offer a workstation based on Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processor.

The European PC maker unveiled the Celsius V810, a workstation capable of harnessing two of AMD's 64-bit-capable Opteron processors. Workstations are essentially heavy-duty desktops, designed to help companies tackle tasks like computer-aided design.

The new workstation, available in Europe, is one of the first computers of its kind to offer the Opteron chip. Fujitsu Siemens and IBM--which offers the Opteron in its eServer 325 and has hinted at plans for a workstation using it--pledged early on to use the chip, which debuted last April. Since then Opteron has gathered support from other hardware makers, including Sun Microsystems. Sun said last month that it plans to offer Opteron servers in 2004.

Fujitsu Siemens built the Celsius V810 for customers who need to do CAD work. But the company said it chose the Opteron in part because it can run 64-bit software.

The Opteron chip is based on x86, the chip architecture behind all PC processors from Intel and AMD. But AMD added 64-bit capabilities to the chip, which speed performance in computers in part by allowing them to use more memory. A 64-bit processor is a particular advantage in servers in which large databases are used. The Opteron is still compatible with 32-bit applications and operating systems--which make up the bulk of the OS and application software currently available--and can run them without affecting performance, AMD has said.

"Many of our customers were bound within the limits of 32-bit computing. By choosing the AMD Opteron processor for our new Celsius V810 workstation, we have been able to extend the possibilities for our customers," said a statement from Peter Esser, executive vice president of volume products at Fujitsu Siemens.

The workstation will be able to run Microsoft Windows or versions of Linux from Red Hat or SuSE, the company said in Celsius V810 technical documentation posted on its Web site.

However, it may take some time for 64-bit software to work its way into the market and onto workstations such as the Celsius V810. Microsoft, for one, doesn't plan to offer a 64-bit version of its Windows OS for the Opteron until the second half of 2004, although a test version of the software is available to some. Red Hat and SuSE do support the chip with their respective server software offerings, the companies have indicated.

Fujitsu Siemens did not offer a price or an exact ship date for the Celsius V810. However, it said that the workstation can be fitted with as many as two processors from AMD's Opteron Model 240 family. The machine also offers a choice between one of four different Nvidia graphics boards and can accommodate up to 16GB of RAM, the company said.

Right now, AMD offers five AMD Opteron 240 models, designed for single- and dual-processor workstations and servers. Its highest performance Opteron 240 model, model 248, runs at 2.2GHz.

In related news, Via Technologies on Monday unveiled a new chipset--a group of chips that route data inside a PC--for AMD's Opteron and Athlon 64 chips. The VIA K8M800 chipset is the first to offer a built-in graphics processor, the company said. Using a chipset that incorporates graphics, which can also be located on a computer's motherboard or in an add-in board, generally helps a PC maker cut costs.

Also, on Tuesday, Silicon Integrated Systems launched a chipset for AMD's mobile Athlon XP notebook PC processor. The chipset, dubbed SiSM741, also incorporates graphics.