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AMD's Opteron party squashed by AMD

Sanders left on his own

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AMD is hanging its much-admired Chairman Jerry Sanders out to dry by turning its back on an Opteron sales prediction the exec made some four months ago.

Aug. 22 was meant to be a special day in AMD's history. For it is on this very day that AMD was to stand up and say that in just four months Opteron was able to eclipse four quarters of Intel's Itanium chip sales. Don't believe it? Here it is straight from the horse's mouth.

"So, yes, we`re in an excellent position. And we think we`re going to sell more Opteron server chips in the first four months than our competitor has sold of their Itanium chip in the last four quarters," Jerry Sanders told CNN on April 22 - the day Opteron entered the server world.

That bold claim set off a string of hollow predictions made by AMD execs about Opteron's impressive sales. As we've pointed out before, AMD insists on claiming that it's beating out Intel in a competition for the slowest selling server chip.

Intel does plenty of things wrong, and a worthy competitor to the giant is a great thing. But Intel does not make the mistake of tossing out worthless chip sales predictions. It has been a bit bullish on Itanic at times, but more often than not, it admits the chip will have a slow ramp. Think algae covered sloth.

By contrast, AMD is running about making claims and setting dates and then backing them up with, well, nothing. It's had some nice supercomputer wins to date, but most of those systems aren't being built until next year. How many Opteron sales have been booked on the balance sheet in the last four months?

"We really can't comment on any sales on any kind of product," an AMD spokeswoman said.

So you are going to leave the loved and admired Jerry Sanders hanging out there all on his own? No comment in any way, shape or form? "No."

In the last four quarters, IDC says around 6,000 Itanium servers have been sold. These systems range in size from one to 32 processors, making a chip count tough. Assuming 2 processors per box, you get a low end estimate of 12,000 chips. With 4 processors, we're talking 24,000 chips.

AMD has a win with 10,000 Opterons, a couple more with 3,000 chips and then some smaller deals. Again, several of these systems won't actually be built until next year or after.

In addition to that, almost all of AMD's wins have been with customers running 32bit software instead of 64bit code on the Opteron chips. Shouldn't AMD be comparing Opteron sales to those of Intel's Xeon then? Such a match-up would make the AMD brass shiver. They are staying mum on that front to be sure.

The Opteron chip looks to be a success in the long run, but AMD must maintain some kind of near-term accountability. Sanders has always been known for saying outrageous things. This is one of his most charming qualities along with having truly spectacular shoes. It's the rest of the bunch following in his charismatic footsteps that are a concern.

If Intel didn't have such scrutinizing eyes watching over it, the company would be sure to take AMD to task for making unsubstantiated claims.

Come on, friends; show us some figures. This was supposed to be a day of celebration. ®

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