It’s been just more than two years since CEO Hector Ruiz unveiled Advanced Micro Devices’ new Opteron server microprocessor. To the surprise of some, the company was able to sign up IBM right away to use the new chip.

Winning the race to market with a 64-bit processor was not just a vanity play to impress the computer chip cognoscenti. By hitting the streets first with a 64-bit capable x86 processor, AMD one-upped rival Intel.

It also worked to convince other systems vendors to follow Big Blue and lend their support to the Opteron.

Indeed, to the surprise of critics, who could recite a litany of company missteps over the years, this was not a one-off event. As it geared up for stiffer competition with rival Intel, AMD lined up the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and many systems vendors to use Opteron in their higher-end systems.

But to retain the momentum, AMD needs to stay ahead on cutting-edge chip design. Ruiz is pushing hard to promote the use of the dual-core Opteron and is powering forward with a plan to diversify into new market segments.

CNET spoke with Ruiz about technology trends and what he envisions for AMD chips in consumer electronics. We also found out that Ruiz believes the era of the $100 laptop PC may be on the horizon.

More here.