AMD last week finally released its 64-bit x86-compatible processor, the Opteron, at an event in New York.The Opteron will initially support servers with two to four processors and will compete against the Intel Xeon and Itanium processors.A variety of vendors have signed up to support AMD\u2019s 64-bit chip, including Microsoft and IBM. Microsoft says a beta version of its Windows 2003 server operating system will be available for Opteron midyear. IBM will offer a server based on Opteron.Opteron runs both 32-bit and 64-bit applications concurrently, and according to AMD is an excellent platform for users who want to migrate to 64-bit operations. In 32-bit mode, the Opteron operates without the performance degradation seen in Intel Itanium 2 processors.Oracle and Fujitsu Siemens were also at the event to show their support for Opteron.The AMD Opteron comes in several models: the 240, 242 and 244. Each model is configured with two processors running at different speeds. They are available now. Later this quarter, AMD will make available the 800 series, which supports as many as eight processors. The company will also introduce single-processor servers in the third quarter of this year.AMD will also introduce the Athlon 64 processor in September, which is suited for deployment in desktop and mobile computers.It will be interesting to watch whether Opteron start-up Newisys, which late last year introduced a two-way Opteron server, will provide it to IBM for resale. The company, which is making ultradense Opteron servers, is rumored to be in talks with IBM.The Opteron processor starts at $283 in quantities of 1,000. The price of a Xeon processor running at 2.6 GHz is $284.