AMD’s recent admission that the performance of Opteron, its upcoming server-oriented processor, formerly codenamed Sledgehammer, isn’t up to snuff will have pleased Intel executives. Opteron marks AMD’s attempt to go beyond the 32-bit PC market and into the more lucrative 64-bit server and scientific computing arenas. Quite apart from the effect Opteron might have on the 64-bit processor market, Intel’s own contender, Itanium, has had its share of performance trouble. However, the poorly received first version of the chip, codenamed Merced, will soon be replaced by a second-generation Itanium, McKinley. Intel is already gearing up its marketing machine: a few days before the Opteron performance revelation, Intel claimed McKinley-based systems will out-perform rival 64-bit kit by 50-100 per cent.