Chipmaker, Advanced Micro Devices, will formally launch its 64-bit Opteron server processor today and some software and hardware vendors have been quick to jump on the bandwagon.
For example, SuSE Linux AG plans to make available this week a version of its Linux distribution for use on Opteron-based systems.
Nuremberg, Germany-based SuSE had created a release of the open-source operating system that lets users run 32-bit applications as well as 64-bit ones, SuSE's vice-president of development, Markus Rex, said.
SuSE built the release out of the same code it uses for servers based on Intel's Itanium and x86 chips and IBM's mainframe, midrange and Unix systems, that should make it easier for vendors to develop applications for Opteron systems, Rex said.
Red Hat said it planned to have an Opteron-enabled version of its Linux operating system ready in the US fall. Meanwhile, Microsoft earlier this month said it would start beta-testing 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 for Opteron and AMD's upcoming Athlon 64 desktop processor by mid-year.
IBM said it would have an Opteron version of its DB2 Universal Database ready this summer, initially supporting SuSE's Linux software. Oracle confirmed that it was also developing a release of its Oracle9i database that would run on Opteron-based systems.
US-based AMD said it was talking with top server vendors about using Opteron in their systems. Some smaller server makers, including Polywell Computers, M&A Technology and Penguin Computing, had already signed up to use the new chip. In addition, Nvidia said it planned to announce an Opteron-optimised graphics motherboard chip set for high-end workstations.
An analyst at Aberdeen Group in Boston, Bill Claybrook, said Opteron gave AMD a potential advantage over Intel's 64-bit Itanium chips because of its support for 32-bit applications.
"With Itanium, you have to port them, and it's not necessarily an easy port," he said.
The support for both 32- and 64-bit applications was where "AMD is really starting to show some muscle," analyst at Forrester Research, Ted Schadler, said. "That's pretty powerful, and obviously a decision Intel didn't make."