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AMD continues its server push

Advanced Micro Devices unveils a pair of Athlon chips for servers, continuing its fledgling effort to become a fixture in the lucrative market.

Advanced Micro Devices is unveiling a pair of server chips Tuesday, continuing its fledgling effort to become a fixture in the server market.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based manufacturer is releasing the Athlon 2200+ MP for multiprocessor servers and workstations, as well as a new version of the Athlon 2000+ MP built on the advanced 130-nanometer manufacturing process. The earlier version of the chip was made on the 180-nanometer process. The nanometer measurement refers to the average size of the features on the chip.

Although AMD has been in the PC processor business for around 20 years, the company only started to penetrate the server market in an appreciable way in the past year with the release of a version of its Athlon chip, along with a complimentary chipset, that could fit in two-processor systems. Typically, server chips sell for more than their desktop counterparts and hence are potentially more profitable.

In the second quarter, the company accounted for 5.5 percent of the processors shipped in the so-called Intel-server market, according to Mercury Research. Intel servers use chips based on the architecture devised by Intel and typically run Linux or Windows. In contrast, traditional servers contain RISC chips and run Unix.

Although AMD's second-quarter share represents a decline from the 8.5 percent achieved by the company in the first quarter, combined totals so far this year indicate that AMD is making some progress.

Next year, the company will try to push further into the market with a family of chips code-named Hammer. Analysts have said that the way Hammer chips communicate with one another--through a high-speed link called HyperTransport--could increase overall server performance.

To date, AMD's server chips are used by system integrators or small manufacturers serving regional markets, such as RackSaver or Europe's Wartmann. NEC and a few large companies, though, have adopted AMD chips for certain servers, while some notable corporate clients, such as Industrial Light and Magic, have started using Athlon servers.

The Athlon 2200+ MP will cost $224 in 1,000-unit quantities.