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Who was smack in the middle of Microsoft’s Windows Home Server launch, at the Consumer Electronics Show last night? I mean, aside from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates?

It was Advanced Micro Devices. AMD unveiled the AMD Live Home Media Server. This AMD home media server, which compliments Microsoft’s Windows Home Server, is not a product. Instead, it’s a hardware reference design the chipmaker is offering to PC manufacturers. Manufacturers can use it as the basis for building their home servers. Thus we can assume AMD has done much of the work of assembling and testing the hardware—of course based on its processors—that will underlie a home server. AMD is, put simplistically, helping to cut down on the time spent and the cost associated with bringing such a product to market. This encourages PC makers to do so and also to use AMD’s chips.

The first home server to be announced, a machine from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), will be based on the reference design from AMD, the chipmaker said in press releases. The machine, dubbed the HP MediaSmart Server and due in 2007, will use an AMD Sempron processor, based on specifications published by HP. (Here's a link to the data sheet.) Given that it was first to offer a Media Center PC, it doesn’t surprise me to see it be first to announce plans to offer the MediaSmart Server. Meanwhile, I’m also going to assume that Intel will also have a horse in this race. It doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that Intel would deliver an Intel VIIV home server reference design at some point, either.

But what you see here that’s a little different from AMD is the company moving toward a new market niche at an earlier stage than it might have in the past. It’s a subtle difference. But it’s important to note that the chipmaker, in its quest to continue growing, is targeting a host of new market segments, even if it means making some investments in research and development. Whether or not you or I believe that home servers will be big—it’s certainly not a new concept, but I think there will be at least some interest among affluent consumers—AMD is working to establish itself in what it believes to be a potentially sizable new market segment.

For its part, AMD also announced that PC manufacturers will begin offering AMD Live notebooks in the near future and unveiled the AMD Live Home Cinema.

AMD 1-yr chart:

AMD 1-yr chart

Source: AMD Positioning Itself For Home Server Market