AMD pushes back Hammer release

The chip maker's first 64-bit processors, which include Clawhammer and a higher-end chip called Sledgehammer, were originally expected to ship in the first half of 2002. The company now plans to have samples of its Hammer chips available to manufacturers in the fourth quarter of 2001. Commercial shipments are expected in the second half of 2002, Drew Prairie, an AMD spokesperson, confirmed Friday.

The delay shouldn't pose a problem for AMD, said Mercury Research chip analyst Dean McCarron. "It's not like they're under any pressure to get this out," he said. "The only competing product is (Intel Corp.'s) Itanium, and it's not really a competing product."

AMD's Hammer processors will be aimed at the lower-end of the server market, while Intel's Itanium processors will target more powerful, midrange servers, McCarron said. Both processors will also be used in workstations.

AMD said the delay will give it time to align the Hammer chips with new manufacturing processes under development, including its 0.13-micron manufacturing process and its SOI (silicon on insulator) technology. The company opened a manufacturing facility in Dresden, Germany in June 1999 to manufacture the processors. Prairie said that facility is currently running at about 50 percent capacity and would reach full capacity by the end of the year.

According to the latest figures from Mercury Research, AMD controlled 20.8 percent of the PC microprocessor market in the first quarter, compared to Intel's 77.5 percent. The delay shouldn't affect AMD's share of the market, McCarron said.

At it's annual shareholders meeting, held Thursday in New York, Hector De J. Ruiz, AMD's president and chief operating officer said the company was satisfied with the progress it was making in its battle for more of the PC chip market. "For the longer term, we are well along in the development of our eighth-generation processor core that will be the basis of the Hammer family," Ruiz said. "But that's a story for another day."

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