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We managed to find a response of an AMD official about the postponement of the Athlon 64 processor that was announced earlier today. From the response we learnt we can figure out the following:
  • The performance of the x86-64 products is meeting AMD’s design expectations. However, the company underestimated the challenge of getting the SOI transistor to scale to the target frequencies. AMD believes that the technology development agreement with IBM and their understanding of SOI can help the Sunnyvale-based company to address these issues.
  • AMD will bring the Opteron processors to the market on the 22nd of April this year. As Hammer is mostly server architecture, the benefits are huge in multi-processor configurations.
  • The Athlon XP “Barton” core’s increased performance gives AMD the ability to meet customer demand for the high performance PC processors available in the market and they have decided to postpone the introduction of the AMD Athlon 64 processor until September 2003 when the company expects it will take over as AMD's highest performance flagship PC processor. It seems to be logical enough, as in case AMD cannot set the x86-64 processors to work at high clock-speeds, the Athlon64 currently is a rival to the Athlon XP “Barton” and it does not make sense to make it available, especially as the Barton is better from price-performance standpoint. Furthermore, AMD does not want an internal conflict between the Athlon XP and Athlon 64 CPUs, especially because there will be a lot more Athlon XP “Barton” chips on the market, while the initial volume of the Athlon 64 is low.
  • AMD will optimise the manufacturing cost and frequencies, and will wait for better customer demand later this year.
So, taking into the account all these facts, especially AMD’s inability to produce a lot of faster Athlon 64 CPUs now, it definitely makes sense to postpone the introduction of the part till Fall and promote the good-old Athlon XP processors in Spring and Summer. In case AMD launched even very few of the Athlon 64 processors now, the market attention would be turned to the newcomer, not the Athlon XP. As AMD is not able to fully fulfill the demand on the fast x86-64 processors now, their sales would be affected.

Of course, it all does not make any difference for the market. Intel seems to be in more favourable position, as they will be able not only to increase the core-clocks of their CPUs, but also add 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus and the Hyper-Threading technology to their chips.

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