The first systems based on AMD's upcoming quad-core Opteron chip, known as Barcelona, as on show at Computex. AMD Barcelona servers from Supermicro, Tyan and Uniwide are on show at Taipei's annual Computex exhibition, which started today. Detailed specifications of the AMD Barcelona chips and servers on display were not immediately available. The appearance of the AMD Barcelona chips, which are scheduled to ship later this year, suggests they are getting close to market.

AMD is counting on Barcelona to boost its sales, and market share, in the face of heated competition from rival Intel.

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AMD Barcelona, which is manufactured using a 65nm process, contains four processor cores on a single piece of silicon. By comparison, Intel's quad-core chips use two pieces of silicon, each containing two cores, strapped together inside a single package. AMD claims its design gives Barcelona a significant boost in performance - as much as 50 percent to 80 percent - over its current Opteron chips.

Uniwide and Supermicro are showing Barcelona systems that take advantage of a power-saving feature of the chip. Called Dual Dynamic Power Management, this allows the processor cores and on-chip memory controller to draw power separately, which AMD said allows better performance and power management.

AMD also promised an easy upgrade path for existing Opteron customers. Motherboards that support current Opteron chips can be upgraded for the quad-core chips by updating the BIOS. Dual-core chips can then be swapped for quad-core Barcelona processors, which use the same chipsets and processor sockets.

Tyan and Asustek are among the companies making upgradeable motherboards.

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