AMD: No Barcelona Bargains

"Sources at server makers" have told DigiTimes that AMD (NYSE: AMD  ) has set its pricing for the first two Barcelona chips, set to be released Sept. 10. It seems the company won't settle for budget-chip status with this product line.

Add salt to taste, since this is largely rumormongering at present, but the report lays out a pricing plan where AMD chips consistently cost more than Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) products of comparable speed ratings. The price gap ranges from about $20 for the first and slowest of the new chips, to more than $100 for the next wave.

All of these quad-core chips are supposed to have a 95-watt power envelope -- the amount of electric power the chip draws under load -- which initially looks weak next to the 80-watt rating of a quad-core Xeon. However, AMD would quickly point out that Intel's chips don't have onboard memory controllers like AMD's do, which makes such a comparison somewhat unfair.

And then there's the tantalizing eight-core Opteron, hovering just out of sight. That much processing power may sound like overkill for most people, but today's corporate data centers will eat these things up and ask for more. Multicore chips save on power use, heat generation, and floor space, and they're ideal for running clusters of virtual servers off one physical machine.

Platform vendors like Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , Red Hat (NYSE: RHT  ) , IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , and Sun (Nasdaq: SUNW  ) all have various levels of virtualization support, either via add-on packages or built right into their enterprise-class operating systems. And let's not forget about newly public virtual machine specialist VMware (NYSE: VMW  ) , which has become the fastest-growing segment at storage giant EMC in short order, thanks to this integration trend.

I'm more anxious to see real-world system benchmarks than pricing and wattage conjecture, of course. But with any luck -- and a steady trickle of insider leaks -- we might be able to form a decent image of how this round in the Intel-AMD wars will play out, before it actually happens.

Further Foolishness:

Intel and Microsoft are two of our Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. You can discover more undervalued giants by taking a free 30-day trial today.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund is an AMD shareholder, but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Ubuntu is his platform of choice. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is what it is because of who we all are.

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