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AMD praying ‘Barcelona’ makes up for four-core mistake

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Channel Stuffing

While Barcelona's release may not match Opteron blow-for-blow, it will stand as a crucial product for AMD’s near-term success.

Sources tell us that the chip is cranking through software at an unreal clip in the labs, beating out AMD’s oft-cited 40 per cent performance gain figure.

Over the last couple of months, AMD executives seemed to change the language around Barcelona’s delivery date, making us wonder if the chip was suffering from a delay. Top staffers started talking up a “late Summer” release rather than a “mid-year” shipments as previously promised.

Rivas said the mid-year plan holds, and we’re looking for Barcelona to ship in July.

The chip can’t come fast enough for AMD’s channel partners who have suffered at the hands of Tier 1 demand.

“We got a little bit distracted,” Rivas said.

AMD has, in fact, blamed its channel shortfall for a recent revenue warning. Rivas said that an unexpected spike in demand for mobile processors along with Tier 1s gobbling up all the available Opterons hurt the supply of gear to the channel.

The channel excuse has rubbed us the wrong way because AMD has spent the last three years celebrating new programs for smaller partners, saying such efforts have been a huge success.

“It was a combination of a boom in our OEM customers and a mix issue that made us not look at our distribution perhaps as well as we could,” Rivas said. “And now we are (suffering) the consequences.”

Moving forward with Barcelona, AMD expects that it will have Opterons for all.

“We will have plenty of silicon” Rivas said. “We will make certain that everyone gets their fair share of the pie.”

Should Barcelona prove as successful as AMD hopes, then the company could be poised to gain server market share against Intel before beginning another game-changing phase.

AMD expects its ATI buy to pay serious data center dividends when the company shifts to 45nm chips in 2008. The chipmaker is looking to combine x86 processors with graphics engines to make products capable of cranking through scientific workloads with unprecedented performance. Such products will be complemented by third-party accelerators that plug right into Opteron sockets - an attack where AMD still enjoys a healthy lead over Intel.

So, come 2008, AMD should gain a shot at seizing the marketing high-ground once again rather than agonizing over missed opportunities. That is if all goes according to plan . . . ®

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