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Server Specs: Dell drops Itanium

The week in chips: Dell drops Intel dud; Sun's Sparc in the works; AMD hires exec; Intel expands real estate; AMD focuses on embedded systems longevity.

A compilation of chip maker news:

Dell drops Itanium
Dell Inc. plans to stop making servers with Intel's Itanium chips, according to a recent article from The Wall Street Journal. The report said the Round Rock, Texas-based hardware company plans to go back to Intel's older Xeon chips. Analysts said server manufacturers are losing interest in the higher-performance architecture following slow sales. Dell was the second largest seller of Itanium behind Hewlett-Packard Co., and is the only major hardware manufacturer with an Intel-only product line.

AMD hires new CTO
Phil Hester has signed on as chief technology officer (CTO) at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), reporting directly to Dirk Meyer, president and chief operating officer of the Microprocessor Solutions Sector. Hester had previously been founder and CEO of Austin, Texas-based server startup Newisys, and spent 23 years at IBM in various positions, including CTO of the PC division. Hester will take over responsibilities from Fred Weber, who is leaving AMD to explore new opportunities in early-stage technology ventures.

Intel expands production at home, R&D abroad
Intel Corp. plans to invest $345 million in two of the company's existing manufacturing sites in Colorado and Massachusetts, which is likely to produce several hundred jobs in each state. The investments will be used to increase the capacity of the wafer fabrications facilities. The company also plans to tap into China's growing talent pool, and will open a new research department in Shanghai. Intel expects to employ 1,000 software and hardware engineers at that facility.

Sun reported to unveil new Sparc IV+ chips
Following on the heels of its latest server refresh featuring AMD's Opteron chips, Sun plans to unveil the next model of its own Sparc chips, according to a report from CNET The Sparc IV+ will compete against midrange offerings from Intel and AMD on the low end and against IBM's Power5 platform on the high end. The announcement is expected to come Tuesday.

AMD launches new embedded chips
AMD unveiled new low-power AMD64 processors for the embedded systems market this week. The embedded systems market includes personal digital assistants and mobile computing devices, but also telecom equipment, blade servers and other data center applications. As part of the launch, AMD is focusing on longevity, which is particularly important in the embedded systems market. According to AMD, the lifecycle of the chips will be five years.

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