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In an effort to prove it's a grownup server processor vendor, AMD continues to push hard on a program meant to teach partners how to sell its gear.

AMD today issued a statement flaunting the arrival of 500 new participants to the Commercial Systems Channel program. This effort, which kicked off in Oct. 2005, provides VARs, integrators, distributors and the like with training material and test kit. AMD hopes this partner love will translate into more sales, as its cohorts can explain why Opteron and even 64-bit desktop chips beat out similar product from Intel.

On the surface, the channel program is little more than a marketing and training ploy. On a deeper level, however, it points to AMD's need to bulk up enterprise chip sales skills at a quick clip.

AMD will likely only maintain a broad performance edge over Intel for the next six months. Then, Intel will begin rolling out server chips around its new "Core" design that should even the playing field to a significant degree. Where AMD dominates every server benchmark today, the two companies will divvy up various wins in a few months time.

AMD sees this coming and knows it needs to hawk as much gear in the near-term as possible, which explains its rather relentless outreach to customers - and reporters - about the channel effort.

"The execution level around the commercial business is real and is happening," said Michael O’Brien, AMD's director of the channel effort, in an interview. "Our programs around partners are starting to make the impact we had planned for."

Overall, the channel promotion still seems rather obvious, and we wonder why AMD pats itself on the back so much about the program. Training customers about the performance benefits and technical specifications of your product is a must.

"Since the program's inception, more than 20,000 global channel sales and technical representatives have been educated on the AMD64 technology value propositions through on-site training, Webinars and partner events in North America, EMEA and Asia," AMD said.

A more impressive feat would have AMD team with partners such as HP and Sun Microsystems to provided detailed information on complex setups such as Oracle RAC configurations with Opteron boxes. O’Brien says guides for such designs are coming.

This ramping channel program points to the work AMD must do to catch up with the vast partner network set up by Intel over the years. It also, however, highlights a potential advantage AMD has over Intel. The open specification around Hypertransport, for example, has allowed partners to create accelerators and other types of unique products specifically for Opteron motherboards. In the coming weeks, we'll be exploring some of the technology you can expect to see from third parties for Opteron.

In the meantime, interested folks can check out AMD's partner portal here. ®

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