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Commentary: AMD's got a server Sledgehammer

Advanced Micro Devices hopes that its new 64-bit product, code-named Sledgehammer, will provide the needed weight to break into the tough but lucrative server market.

By John Enck, Gartner Analyst

Advanced Micro Devices has struggled to find a way to compete with Intel in the server market.

The issues preventing the chipmaker's

See news story:
Transmeta to help AMD push into servers
success thus far have been as much business-related as technical. For example:

• AMD does not produce motherboards that support more than two processors, while Intel's motherboards support up to eight.

• Intel's relationships with its OEM partners such as Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, IBM and Hewlett-Packard are very strong in the server segment of the market.

• Enterprise standards for server reliability, manageability and performance are high, but AMD has no track record in this area.

AMD hopes that its new 64-bit product, code-named Sledgehammer, will provide the needed weight to break into the tough but lucrative server market. Intel's 64-bit processor product, code-named Itanium, requires that operating systems and applications be explicitly rewritten for 64-bit operations for optimal performance. AMD's "code-morphing" approach, on the other hand, should provide performance boosts to existing 32-bit software applications as well as allow software to be rewritten to take full advantage of the 64-bit extensions.

As for AMD's establishing a partnership with Transmeta, that partnership would enable AMD to bring the technology to market faster. However, Transmeta does not have the technology or business channels to address the issues that have thus far limited AMD's success in the server market. As is the case with AMD, the relationships between Transmeta and the industry standard manufacturers mentioned above are primarily on the laptop and desktop side of the business.

Gartner views the combination of AMD and Transmeta as providing no additional leverage for AMD to crack the server market.

(For related commentary on the competitive battle between AMD and Intel, see registration required.)

Entire contents, Copyright ? 2001 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.