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Dell hints at plans for AMD's Opteron

And slams DRAM makers

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Michael Dell gave a boost to Advanced Micro Devices Inc yesterday when he said he did not see vendors having to make an "either or" choice between the chip vendor's hybrid Opteron processor and Intel's expected Yamhill counterpart, Joe Fay writes.

The statement, made at the Merrill Lynch Hardware Heaven conference in San Francisco, will give comfort to AMD as it strives to break Intel's stranglehold on the mainline PC vendors with Opteron, which will run both 32 bit and 64 bit applications when it launches next year.

In his presentation, Dell restated the company's attachment to "open standards", which in the Dell world means Windows and Linux, running on Intel processors. However, when asked about chip strategy, the Dell chairman and CEO said "we're very interested and we're looking."

Ironically, Dell echoed one of Intel's recent rallying cries, when he said that the PC industry had a responsibility to make exciting products, if it wanted to see customer demand revive.

He added that he was "encouraged" by the innovation that was going on, "not just by our current suppliers, but future potential suppliers."

When asked after his presentation whether the company was likely to plump for Intel's own mooted 32/64bit hybrid Yamhill, over AMD's offering, Dell said it need not be an either/or decision. "It's not necessarily one or the other."

Dell's statements clearly encouraged AMD chairman Jerry Sanders, who was on the next table. Once Opteron makes it to the market, he said, "I believe everyone will adopt a two supplier processor strategy, like they do with DRAM suppliers."

He added that he hoped Intel would hurry up and officially announce Yamhill, as this would further validate AMD's own strategy.

Dell also used the conference to hit out at memory suppliers. He said an expected drop in DRAM prices in the wake the collapse of the expected Hynix/Micron tie-up would be passed on to the company's customers by way of pricing.

Memory prices, after a prolonged period in the doldrums, ticked up recently. However Dell savaged some DRAM makers who in recent weeks, he claimed, had indulged in "something like cartel-like behavior."

DRAM vendors had hoped to raise prices, said Dell, and see demand increase at the same time. This had prompted Dell, at least, to switch its promotional focus from memory, to other PC elements. "The world doesn't work like that," said Dell.

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