IBM will in May begin shipping the company's first workstation powered by AMD's Opteron microprocessor.

IBM will in May begin shipping the company's first workstation powered by AMD's Opteron microprocessor.

The IntelliStation A Pro workstation will be based on the AMD Opteron Model 244, 246 and 248 processors, at 1.8GHz, 2.0GHz and 2.2GHz, respectively, and will be available in dual-processor and single-processor configurations.

Last December, Fujitsu Siemens unveiled a dual-processor Opteron workstation called the Celsius V810, available in Europe. The new workstation will be the first Opteron workstation from a major vendor to ship in North America, said Sarang Ghatpande, an analyst with research company D.H. Brown Associates.

By being quick to market with the 64-bit Opteron system, IBM may be able to sell the workstation outside of the computer-aided design (CAD) market, where most of its workstations traditionally have been sold, Ghatpande said. The workstation should appeal to customers doing digital content creation, visualization, and seismic analysis, who want 64-bit systems that are less expensive than RISC (reduced instruction set computer) offerings, he said. "There is basically a need for this. The traditional 64-bit solutions have been higher priced than what customers need."

Ghatpande expects other hardware vendors to follow suit with Opteron workstations of their own. "I'm sure somebody else will do an Opteron-based workstation," he said. "It has a good value proposition for workstation applications."

A single-processor A Pro with a 1.8GHz processor, an NVidia graphics card and 1GB of memory will start at $2,619 (around £1,500) in the US, according to IBM. It will support the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Suse AG's Linux, as well as the 32-bit version of Windows XP Pro. Windows 64-bit support will follow, when Microsoft ships its version of Windows for the Opteron processor, which is expected later this year.