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One of the world’s leading core-logic designers – ServerWorks, a subsidiary of comm giant Broadcom – said this week it would develop a chipset for AMD Opteron-based servers and workstations. The release will be the company’s first attempt to address a market of non-Intel based applications.

Broadcom Meets AMD Opteron

Historically ServerWorks developed core-logic components for high-end dual-processor or multi-processor servers and workstations powered by chips from Intel Corp. and did not touch other platforms. However, starting from mid-2003 some rumours started to suggest that the company might have plans to go AMD64 route and introduce a chipset for AMD Opteron-based computers.

This week at Computex Taipei 2004 Broadcom and Advanced Micro Devices inked a strategic agreement and said that Broadcom would develop a core-logic for AMD Opteron-powered applications.

“By marshaling all of the expertise of Broadcom’s Enterprise Computing Group - including chipsets, advanced networking, server architectural IP, and storage management and control - to work with the high performance AMD Opteron processor, we will enable the industry to experience the highest performance platforms yet,” said Gary Thomas, Vice President and General Manager of Broadcom’s ServerWorks subsidiary.

High-End Servers First

Initially ServerWorks will ship chipsets for 4-way AMD64 machines, the most lucrative offering among massively available servers on AMD Opteron microprocessors. However, it is possible to expect Broadcom’s ServerWorks to look in the direction of 2-way or 8-way servers as well.

While the development of chipsets for AMD’s 64-bit processors is not something completely different from making core-logic product for other platforms and will allow ServerWorks to use some existing components, the firm will still have to develop one or a number of HyperTransport-supporting chips to communicate with AMD Opteron central processing units.

ServerWorks has been extremely successful with its chipsets for Intel’s Xeon processors. Its commitment to AMD64 platform may mean some pressure on existing suppliers of chipsets for Opteron – primarily NVIDIA Corp. and VIA Technologies. Furthermore, strategic alliance with Broadcom means further withdrawal of AMD from chipset business and concentration on microprocessors.

Broadcom’s first server I/O chipset samples for use with the AMD Opteron processor platform are expected to be available in the fall of 2004.


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