The first two processors have emerged from Advanced Micro Devices' (AMD’s) new 45 nanometre manufacturing process, as the company tries to play catch-up with rival Intel.
AMD is demonstrating its "Shanghai" server processor and the sister "Deneb" desktop version at CeBIT and says both will ship "in the second half of this year." However, it declined to be more specific.
Company spokesman Garry Silcott said the new chips, made in AMD's Fab 36 plant in Dresden, had already shipped to a "select list" of customers.
Intel already has a growing family of 45nm Penryn processors. Even though AMD was giving Intel a run for its money a few years back, financial troubles and delayed products have left it lagging behind.
"It's late, but it's not too late for AMD to come out with 45nm chips," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting. "The degree to which these chips can compete with Intel depends on whether 'second half '08' means July or late December.
"If we're talking July, then this might allow them to pull back to parity with current Intel products. If we're talking December, or essentially the thirteenth month of '08 – namely January – then they're still firmly behind Intel."
Olds added that if AMD had announced its 45nm chips were coming back when the company was on top of its game, then a lot of customers may have waited to upgrade their systems. Today, that's probably not going to be the case, he said.
"AMD doesn't have the reputation right now, so their announcement probably won't freeze customer demand. Although, the news that they have processors out in customer land is an indication that the processors are working."
Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, had more faith that AMD's loyal customers will wait and see what the company comes out with – although the length of that wait would be critical. "Every extra month is going to be seen as a nail in AMD's coffin because they've had so many problems in delivery."
AMD's Silcott said one thing that should give the company a boost over Intel is its adoption of immersion lithography technology, which involves including a layer of water between the lens and the wafer in the manufacturing process.
"It gives you greater resolution and lets you get to the smaller dimensions and line widths in 45nm," he added. "It's one of the largest differentiators between us and our competitors. We are the first to move to immersion lithography, which will also carry us to 32nm."
Silcott said that mooted move to 32nm would occur by 2010 or 2011.