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AMD VP sees more Opteron growth and a Dell win

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El Reg: There seems to be this notion brewing that x86 SMPs could become a bigger part of the overall server market. What's your take on that idea?

HR: We believe that it's a bit of a chicken and egg situation.

The reason that 4P and above isn't a bigger part of the action right now is because Intel was alone and their architecture wasn't scaling. The pricing structure was not helping customers go there either.

Until we came into the market, it was cheaper to do two 2Ps than one 4P. In some cases, it was better performance.

I think AMD and Opteron have changed that.

By nature in the enterprise, some of those changes don't take place very rapidly. But, I think that we going to see some very interesting 4P blades and things like that. It will really start to gain speed.

We, of course, have a vested interest in pushing things in that direction because that is where the competition's lack of scale is going to hurt them.

There is a lot of stuff we are doing as well that will make 8 sockets, 16 sockets and 32 sockets much more affordable.

[Hear Richard discuss the benefits of the open Hypertransport spec here.]

El Reg: What OS would play well on those systems?

HR: I think both the Microsoft camp and Unix camp are eyeing that part of the market. I think Solaris, because of its history, has a lot of scalability and is promising. Sun will do everything they can to make sure it performs well on the large systems.

El Reg: When do you think poor old SGI will make the move to Opteron?

HR: My assessment is that any of the vendors who are still entirely dependent on Itanium must be very worried. It is one thing to have Itanium as part of a product line. It is another thing when your entire business hinges solely on the future of Itanium.

I think the future is dark enough or questionable enough that it would give certain companies great concern.

From that perspective, you would expect SGI to look at Opteron as either a viable diversification or, in a more drastic type of decision, a change in strategy. By not having Opteron today they are hurting themselves.

El Reg: You guys used to sweet talk Dell a bit in the press. Lately, I've noticed some harsher statements where you say Dell is missing out on a market. Have you given up on Dell?

HR: I wouldn't read too much into the comments we made months ago. I think we were reacting to something that we felt was unfair, which was statements by Dell executives that they were seeing no demand in their customer base for AMD systems.

A bust of AMD founder Jerry Sanders

I continue to maintain that is not true. I have meetings with large customers, and we know that they have asked Dell to reconsider their position.

That said, they have acquired Alienware, so they're technically a customer. We enjoy a very large share with Alienware.

There are no hard feelings between Dell as a corporation and AMD as a corporation.

El Reg: How far have the discussions with Dell gone?

HR: Our executive teams are talking to each other on a regular basis.

I have to be optimistic about our long term plans. Our long term plans are to capture 30 per cent of the business in both units and dollars. If you think that we have a chance to get there, I think that it's difficult to imagine a world where we have that sort of a share without some sort of a relationship with the number one player in the industry.

I think Dell's ambition is to get bigger, and AMD's ambition is to get bigger. So at some point in time, somewhere down in the future, I think it will be more likely that we have a relationship.

[Richard talks about the AMD and Apple deal that wasn't here.]

El Reg: Isn't it hard to keep banging the anti-trust drum given your success with the 64-bit chips and market share gains?

HR: I get this question a lot. It's a bit like asking, "You've been a criminal all your life but for the last three years you have behaved properly. Does that make you less of a criminal?"

El Reg: Yeah, but these lawsuits take a lot of time, energy, and money. Why bother at this point? Why not stay focused?

HR: The evidence is the evidence. The fact that we have been successful could be because we did the lawsuit. It could be because we started to raise the awareness in the consciousness of the customers, the government, and to a certain degree Intel employees that things needed to change.

We still see monopolistic behavior taking place every day. In some cases it might be more subdued, but that is not to say it has completely changed.

I am proud that Hector had the courage to say, "Enough". Somebody needed to do it. ®

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