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AMD: Article

Sledge Moves Up in the Pecking Order

Sledge Moves Up in the Pecking Order

AMD has switched tacks and is now saying the so-called 64-bit hybrid “SledgeHammer die will be first to market” and that its initial Hammer focus will be on the server, where it’s confident of an “absolutely clean kill.”

Its remarks, made during its Q3 conference call Wednesday, point to a change in its first-foot-forward strategy from the ClawHammer desktop chip. First deliveries of the ClawHammer were strung out recently from Q4 till next year, reportedly because of yield issues (CSN No 469). Still there’s talk of desktop product being out on Q1-Q2, followed by Hammer mobils.

AMD has now said that it would start production shipments of its supposedly redemptive Hammer chip in the mid-first half, which pretty much corresponds with the late March date previously reported here, though sources say AMD is currently indecisive about whether it’ll be late March or early April.

Sources also say AMD CEO Hector Ruiz has bought himself a keynote at Comdex, making people suspect he might have a, oh, tier-two OEM for Hammer to announce.

Meanwhile, Hammer’s first known adopter, the Newisys start-up, has reportedly got a bunch of two-way Hammer-based alpha machines out with potential resellers. Supposedly the systems are pretty stable, but then, of course, Hammer is just a gussied-up 32-bit Athlon.

At the Microprocessor Forum this week, AMD described a 2GHz Hammer, without saying whether it was a Claw or a Sledge, according to chip watcher Nathan Brook-wood, as being capable of an aggressive SPECint of 1202 and a SPECfp of 1170 running 32-bit apps, better than almost anything that exists with the possible exception of the Itanium 2’s floating point, which interests mostly HPC players.

Sources think Hammer, currently supposed to be running at 1.4GHz, should be able to get to 2GHz by the time AMD starts delivering the thing in volume, a relative number if it’s going after the server space. AMD’s overheads at the Forum compared Hammer to Intel’s Xeon chip, not the 64-bit Itanium, and showed Hammer’s clock and integer numbers ramping linearly, and steeply against the Xeon.

Brookwood expects Hammer to have a price advantage over the Xeon and a big price advantage over the Madison Itanium. AMD hasn’t breathed a word about pricing yet.

Intel cautions against comparing an unannounced chip to an established chip that, 64-bit wizardry to one side, should be good for better than 3GHz by the time the upstart comes out. (Think 3.2GHz or 3.4GHz.)

Meanwhile, Intel was titillating the Forum with talk of multi-core Itania with four separate Itaniums on a chip sharing a common cache, without saying it’s really gonna do it.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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