Web gaffe shows Dell selling AMD's Opteron

A Web page inadvertently posted to Dell Inc.'s Software and Peripherals Web site has provided proof that the computer vendor has now started selling Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s (AMD) Opteron microprocessor - to one customer, at least.

The Web page, which has been archived on the Geek.com Web site, offers to sell a single 2.2GHz Opteron 148 UP processor for the price of US$869.47. It did not say what, if any, Dell system the processor might be used for.

Originally designed as a "premier page" that would be used by a Dell customer to order products from within a corporate intranet, the page was accidentally posted to the publicly available Dell.com Web site, said Bruce Anderson, a Dell spokesman.

"We had a single customer that had requested this," he said. "We made a mistake and we posted something to an area where it shouldn't have been posted. It has since been deactivated."

Launched a year ago, the Opteron processor is AMD's answer to Intel Corp.'s Itanium 2 chip. As with the Itanium 2, machine language instructions are sent to the chip using a 64-bit instruction set, but the Opteron is a less costly processor that is also designed to perform well with applications that have been written for Intel's more popular 32-bit processors.

The Opteron 148 listed on Dell's Web page was introduced by AMD last November. It is designed for single processor servers and workstations.

IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and, most recently, Hewlett-Packard Co. have all thrown their support behind the Opteron processor, but Dell, in the Round Rock, Texas, has not.

"We do not offer an AMD-based product today," said Anderson. "We continue to evaluate and monitor AMD."

While the premier page indicated that Dell was, at least, offering a single Opteron processor to a single Dell customer, it did not prove that Dell was selling Opteron systems, Anderson said.

The idea that Dell might be selling Opteron processors for some other vendor's system was possible, but unlikely, said Gordon Haff, an analyst with industry research firm Illuminata Inc.

"If there really was an Opteron processor listing accidentally put up on its site, that would lead me to believe there was something in the works," he said. "It's not impossible that they would sell an Opteron processor by itself from their Parts and Accessories Group, but a processor is a bit different from a disk drive."

An archive of the Dell page can be found here: http://geek.com/news/geeknews/2004Mar/gee20040324024414.htm

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