XP Gets Xtended

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As we mentioned yesterday, this article slipped in what is probably the biggest news story in some time: socket A will “likely” last another generation.

Now this isn’t any rumor from unknown sources. This is coming from AMD itself.

Let me quote the most important parts of the story:

“. . . AMD said it will likely move its Athlon XP, which has been on the market since 2001, to the 90-nanometer manufacturing process and continue to make the chip through 2004.

“The new Athlon XPs, meanwhile, are coming to market to compensate for delays to the upcoming Athlon64 lineup. The first Athlon64 chips are set to hit the street in September, but won’t start coming out in massive volume until the debut of 90-nanometer manufacturing, Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager of AMD’s Microprocessor Business Unit, said in an interview earlier this month.

“Until the 90-nanometer manufacturing begins, Seyer said, the Athlon64 will be identical in size to the Opteron chip at 193 square millimeters. The Athlon XP, by contrast, measures 101 square millimeters, which makes it far cheaper to make.

“These factors mean there will be a limited number of relatively pricey Athlon64 chips on the market at first. Thus, extending the Athlon XP line will let AMD continue to make chips for the midtier and budget PC market.”

What About The Hammers That Are Supposed To Be Called XPs?

Many of you may say, “Wait a minute. AMD isn’t talking about real XPs; they’re talking about the Hammers that they plan to call XPs.”

It’s an understandable reaction, but evidence both inside and outside the article indicates that these are real XPs AMD is talking about.

For one thing, the AMD spokesperson referred to the AthlonXP being 101 sq. mm.. That’s the exact size of Barton at 130nm. It’s pretty unlikely a stripped-down Hammer would come in at exactly the same size as a Barton.

The comments made by an Abit spokesperson earlier this month now make a great deal more sense:

“The KV7 has a solid future ahead of it. Athlon 64 will definitely have a huge impact on the market, particularly the high end. However, the vast middle of performance users and gamers who haven’t won the lottery will not be much affected by this. . . . Keep in mind that this will only affect the very high-end of the market: mainstream sales will likely be dominated by K7 based solutions for another year.”

The article keeps making reference to “moving” the XP line to 90nm and “extending” the product line. There’s not a hint of Hammerness in any of the comment.

While it’s not inconceivable that AMD is jumping through linguistic hoops and actually referring to the alleged cut-down Hammer, the weight of the evidence points another way.

Nor is this necessarily an either/or. I suppose it’s possible AMD could do both.

Or perhaps the reports of an x86-64-less Hammer were really reports of a 90nm XP that someone just assumed had to be a Hammer.

What Is AMD Up To?…

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