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AMD could ship a quad-core Opteron on 2007

Analyst bullish on chipmaker's dual-core confidence

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AMD may "potentially" ship its first four-core Opteron processor in 2007, bullish Goldman Sachs analyst Andrew Root has claimed.

The chipmaker has to get its dual-core parts out of the door first, of course, and that's not scheduled to take place until H2 2005, once it's ramped up its 90nm yields sufficiently to support the larger die size required of such a processor.

The Opteron and Athlon 64's 'Hammer' architecture was designed to support two processing cores on one due, with both hooking into the chip's single memory controller. That means the move to dual-core should be more a fabrication issue than a chip design one.

"AMD has relatively high confidence in its dual-core product development," notes Root.

And having done the ground work for dual-core, going quad ought not to present too much of a challenge, architecturally speaking. Again, die-size and yield issues will prove more of a hurdle, which is why, according to Root's latest report to investors, quad-core parts will be fabbed at 65nm on 300mm wafers.

AMD is currently building its first 300mm-wafer fab, in Dresden, with a target to go into volume production in 2006, giving the company plenty of time to perfect the plant's production lines in time for 2007's quad-core launch - if Root is correct in his assumption.

AMD's 65nm process is being co-developed with IBM.

"AMD remains on track for starting production at its new 300mm fab (Fab 36 in Dresden, Germany) on 65nm in H1 2006, with equipment arriving in Q3," writes Root. "Recall that AMD is doing the 65nm technology development jointly with IBM, and estimates that it is about 70 per cent done."

Root is pretty confident about AMD's 90nm roll-out. Last week, he wrote claiming that the chipmaker has begun revenue shipments of its 90nm parts, and that it appears less affected by the problems other chip manufacturers have had with their 90nm roll-outs. ®

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