AMD's Hammer chips get tool vendor support

Several vendors of tools for software development announced their support for Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s (AMD) upcoming Opteron and Athlon chips Tuesday.

Etnus LLC, MigraTec Inc., Numerical Algorithms Group, and STMicroelectronics NV will release versions of their existing products for the chips, which adds to the number of software and hardware vendors who have already pledged support.

In separate announcements, Asia Vital Components Co. Ltd., Cooler Master, Grammar Engine Inc., Micron Technology Inc., ON Semiconductor Corp., and Semtech Corp. also said Tuesday they will support the chips.

Hammer is the code name for AMD's x86-64 technology, which blends 64-bit technology with the x86 microprocessor family run by most of the world's computers, so software written for AMD's older 32-bit technology will be able to run on Hammer chips without being recompiled. Opteron is the chip for servers and workstations, while AMD will keep its desktop brand name, Athlon, for the new Hammer desktop chip.

Tuesday's announcements bring AMD's partners closer to being able to piece together a PC or server with products designed for the x86-64 technology, said John Crank, senior branding associate in the Athlon product line. Several internal component vendors, such as Via Technologies Inc. and Nvidia Corp., have announced support for Hammer, and Microsoft Corp. will develop a version of Windows optimized for the chips. STMicroelectronics' Portland Group Complier Technology will allow developers to create software using C and C++, two of the most popular programming languages in use, Crank said. Etnus will bring its TotalView debugger product, which already supports 32-bit Athlon processors, to Hammer, it said in a release.

MigraTec makes 64Express, a source-code migration tool that will allow developers to take code written for 32-bit machines and port it to 64-bit ones, the company said. NAG manufactures numerical libraries that save time for software developers and get high performance out of 64-bit technology, NAG said.

Athlon will be out sometime in the fourth quarter, while Opteron is expected in the first half of 2003, said Crank, sticking with the previously announced time frame. Opteron will join Intel Corp.'s Itanium 2 in trying to grab market share away from proprietary Unix server vendors like Sun Microsystems Inc. and IBM Corp.

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