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AMD, Cray and reporter in Barcelona caper

Colonel Mustard in Q4 with a processor

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An uncomfortable war of speculation over the ship date for AMD's four-core Barcelona processor has broken out between the chipmaker, supercomputer vendor Cray and the Dow Jones newswire.

Cray started this mess yesterday by saying that component delays would cause it to miss the planned fourth quarter ship date for a revamped version of its XT4 supercomputer.

The only problem was that Cray refused to disclose which component in particular had caused the delay and failed to specify which version of AMD's upcoming four-core family – Barcelona or Budapest – it will use in the new XT4s. AMD has long said that Barcelona will ship in the Summer, while the lower-end Budapest is slated to arrive in the fourth quarter.

Wall Street went into panic this morning when the Dow Jones printed a pair of stories "confirming" that a Barcelona delay was behind Cray's issues. In one story, the newswire reported:

The part that is delayed is the four-core processor being made for the supercomputer by Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), Steve Conway, a Cray spokesman, said in an interview.

"Its postponement, at least according to everything we know right now, is a brief postponement," Conway said.

In another story, the newswire reported:

On Monday supercomputer maker Cray Inc. (CRAY) issued a revenue warning for the year, citing a delay in the availability of a component, which analysts said is likely the Barcelona server chip. Meanwhile, on Tuesday Citigroup analyst Glen Yeung said in a research report out of Taiwan's Computex Trade show, that "several sources," including server vendors, distributors and motherboard makers, confirmed Barcelona will be delayed to September/October from June/July.

Those of you interested in this kind of stuff will want to note that Cray won't be using the Barcelona chips in the XT4s. The systems will run on the lower-end, latter Budapest chips. So, that's one issue taken care of.

Cray, however, continues to leave the world in a mystery over what is in fact causing the XT4 delays - processor, memory or what? (Even though we all know it's really the processor.) The company's investor relations spokesman Victor Chynoweth told us that his colleague public relations spokesman Steve Conway could not comment on the XT4 issue because "he doesn't know what's going on."

"Steve can't confirm that one way or the other," Chynoweth said.

You have to love it when war breaks out between spokesmen.

More crucially, you must be wondering what the heck is happening to the precious Barcelona that's meant to revive AMD's attack against Intel. In the past, AMD executives have said both that Barcelona will ship by "mid-year" and "in the Summer." If we're talking July, we're talking the same thing. September, however, hardly counts as mid-year.

According to our sources, AMD will in fact ship Barcelona later than it hoped under the most optimistic circumstances. So, that means the chip will not flow in volume by mid-year. Instead, we're looking anywhere from late August through September. ®

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