AMD has released a new version of its Opteron processor, the popular workstation chip that has made AMD a serious competitor of rival Intel.

Vendors applaud the chip's support of virtualization and DDR2 memory, and its ability to maintain constant electrical and thermal boundaries as it rises from dual-core design today to quad-core in 2007.

AMD hopes the chip will preserve its recent gains in market share. The company has watched sales rocket up with Opteron, which is popular with customers who like its power-efficient processing in an age of soaring costs for data center power and cooling.

The rest of the market belongs to Intel, which struck a blow against Opteron in June with the launch of its "Woodcrest" Xeon 5100 workstation chip, a member of the company's Core 2 Duo generation of power-efficient chips built with 65-nanometer architecture.

Now AMD hopes to regain its momentum with the Rev F chip.

AMD divides the new chip line into three ranges. The Opteron 1000 series are appropriate for single-chip workstations and the 2000 series will fit two-processor machines, while the 8000 series will fit four- and eight-chip servers.

Expect to see a head-to-head test of the new Opteron 2000 against Intel's Xeon 5100 in the next issue of Digit.