AMD beaches 500 Opteron systems

According to this story over at The Inquirer, AMD is preparing to seed the channel with 500 dual 1.4GHz Opteron systems as a part of its "Beachhead" development program. The development systems will be available towards the end of the month, but before you get too excited, note this:
The system builders are expected to sell such systems to end users for software development and evaluation work, but AMD is warning that they are not intended for benchmarking, because final production machines will produce different results.

It's not final production hardware for processors and for chipsets, AMD emphatically warns.

As development systems become available, we'll no doubt see benchmarks posted on the web, but those should be regarded with a critical eye.

The Inquirer's story also quotes prices for the Opteron development systems, but because such a limited number of systems are being made available under an AMD-sponsored program, and since those systems are only using 1.4GHz Opteron processors, it's difficult to draw any conclusions about what Opteron's launching prices will be.

The story doesn't have any specific information on AMD's upcoming Athlon 64 desktop processor, but does mention that development systems will ship with a pre-alpha version of Windows AMD 64, which I presume is the 64-bit version of Windows XP, and a product version of Windows 2000. That a 64-bit version of Windows XP could only be in pre-alpha development stages makes me wonder how essential a 64-bit version of Windows XP will be for the success of Athlon 64 processors on the desktop. I'm sure Opteron buyers will be running Windows 2000 or Linux, but the desktop success of AMD's Athlon 64 could depend largely on Microsoft's ability to produce a 64-bit consumer operating system.

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