will embark on the 64-bit computing wagon this year
with the launch of its Opteron processor on April 22.
Desktop and notebook versions of this 64-bit chip will
debut later this year. But AMD isn't a first mover in
this area, and it needs a good strategy to sell these
AMD says it isn't worried about not having the first
mover advantage in the 64-bit computing space. It is
confident that its 64-bit chips will sell on account
of their backward compatibility for 32-bit applications.
AMD will sell Opteron using the 'ease of migration'
and 'low migration cost' cards.
"We are not asking customers to re-design all their
application software for the 64-bit platform. We are
not asking developers to re-develop everything, for
it involves a lot of costs," said Sanjeev Keskar,
Country Manager, AMD Far East Limited (India).
Arvind Chandrashekar, Technical Specialist, AMD India
says, "Enterprises have already spent heavily on
32-bit software licenses. Now suddenly asking them to
go 64-bit would mean additional costs for new licenses.
They will have to port their applications and data to
the 64-bit environmentand that costs money. Opteron
is the easiest way out for anyone looking to migrate
to the 64-bit platform. No porting or recompiling is
required for most applications. If at all it's needed,
there are tools that achieve this quickly."
While Opteron is primarily for servers, a desktop version
(called Athlon-64) is also expected. And since 'desknotes'
(notebooks with the power of desktops) are fast gaining
in popularity, there is a possibility of a notebook
version too. Both these chips are likely to be launched
in September 2003.
What AMD needs to do
While 64-bit applications for servers have been available
on the RISC platform, AMD will need to step up its developer
programs so that enough business applications (for servers)
are available by the time the chip is launched.
Besides servers, AMD could also explore other areas
like workstations and gaming systems. Since chips based
on 64-bit architecture have larger memory addressability
(as large as 16 exabytes), these are also ideal for
graphics workstations; AMD has an opportunity in the
low-cost workstations space. Increased realism in gaming
software demands more powerful gaming machines. Systems
such as Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation2 already use
64-bit processors. This is another opportunity for AMD
(perhaps for Microsoft's Xbox?)
AMD also needs to develop its channel in India and educate
distributors, resellers and customers about its products.
In fact it is already working full-time to strengthen
its presence here, and develop the channel. When it
set up operations here in 2001 it did not have any OEMs
for desktop systems. In fact there were no AMD powered
PCs available in the domestic market at that time.
"Today we have four OEMs who are driving enterprise
business for desktops. The four are HP/Compaq, Wipro,
PCS and Vintron. We don't have any OEM partner for servers
and workstations yet, but we are talking to several
OEMs here," said Keskar.
AMD also has system integrators who are promoting its
Athlon MP solutions in the SME market. "Since we
launched Athlon MP in August 2002 we are driving dual-processor
systems through the system integrators," informed
AMD's system integrators (SI) focus on niche segments
like architects, film studios, and graphic designers.
The SI puts together a solution built specifically to
the customer's requirement. This solution comprises
AMD validated components like motherboards, power supplies,
cabinets etc. It also includes specific softwarefor
example, graphics software for a studio. In that sense,
AMD prefers to call these SI's as 'Solution Integrators.'
AMD also has three distributors in India for desktop
and server processors: Tech Pacific, Avnet Max and Intraco.