AMD to start 90nm production next month…

...but we won't see product until late Q3

AMD's 90nm Athlon 64 and Opteron chips will start rolling off the company's Dresden production line in the second week of April, but you won't be able to buy a machine based on the parts until late Q3 / early Q4.

So said AMD senior VP and CFO Robert J Rivet during a presentation at the Morgan Stanley Semiconductor and Systems Conference on Monday.

According to Rivet, AMD's timetable runs something like this. The company will punch out its first production silicon in around five weeks' time, once its 90nm silicon-on-insulator process is "fully qualified". Full-scale production will commence in July, as per the company's previous statements on 90nm chip availability.

That leaves the company a month or so to build up sufficient volumes of chips to sell to system builders and manufacturers, which brings us to product availability in September-October-November.

Certainly, AMD's two 90nm Athlon 64 parts, codenamed 'Winchester' (Athlon 64) and 'San Diego' (Athlon 64-FX) are roadmapped to appear during the second half of the year, as are the 90nm Opterons: 'Athens' (800 series), 'Troy' (200 series) and 'Venus' (100 series).

Rivet also notes that the 90nm Athlon 64's die size comes in at under 100mm² - below Intel's 90nm Pentium 4, which has a 112mm² die size. Of course, Winchester has half the L2 cache of Prescott.

By the end of the year, 64-bit chip shipments should exceed 32-bit volumes, Rivet said, admitting that Athlon XP revenues still outweigh those of the part's 64-bit siblings. What he calls "unit crossover" should take placed in Q4. ®

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