by CIO Staff

Dell Uses Opteron Processors in Servers

Oct 24, 20063 mins
Data Center

Dell is coming out with its first servers running Advanced Micro Devices’s Opteron processors.

Dell introduced the PowerEdge 6950, a four-socket server, and the PowerEdge SC1435, a two-socket model, Monday at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco.

Dell says the 6950, with a base price of US$6,500, is designed for demanding computing work such as database management, server consolidation, virtualization and migration from reduced instruction set computing processor-based systems.

The SC1435, with a base price of $1,300, is designed to run in dense rack server environments and is targeted at small- to midsize businesses seeking improved price-performance and energy-efficiency.

“These products further the price-performance leadership that Dell has had in the server market, and also improved performance by watt,” said Michael Dell, chairman of Dell, in a keynote address. Dell, like other server makers, is touting the efficiency of new models as data center managers try to curtail power consumption due to high energy costs.

Up until now, Dell had used only Intel server processors, but is now joining server competitors Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, IBM and others in offering AMD Opteron processors as an alternative to Intel’s Xeon processors.

“Dell finally came around,” said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight 64, a technology market research firm.

Dell had been able to satisfy its customers by selling only Intel-powered machines, but when AMD’s Opteron began to cut into Intel’s market dominance, Dell’s customers started asking for the Opteron alternative too.

“Until the past 12 months, [not offering Opteron] never really hurt Dell, but it was beginning to have an impact,” Brookwood said.

Hector Ruiz, AMD’s chief executive officer, hinted at the Dell announcement during a keynote address he made prior to Dell’s at OpenWorld, which organizers said is to draw more than 40,000 IT professionals this week at the Moscone Center.

Ruiz said the main reason the tech economy slumped in the early 2000s wasn’t typical economic fluctuations. “It was because IT professionals didn’t have the choices you needed,” he said. “Now you will have a real choice in processors.”

Although AMD presents a strong challenge to Intel, it has come at a price. AMD reported a decline in gross earnings in third-quarter results released Oct. 18—to 51.4 percent, from 55.4 percent in the previous year’s quarter—which the company attributed to a price war with Intel.

Of Monday’s news of Dell using Opteron, Intel representative Erica Fields said: “Our server group is just coming off a record quarter where we believe we gained share in the highest volume segments. It’s our job to continue to convince Dell and their IT customers that we have the best products for any computing need.”

Intel last week revealed its plans to introduce a four-core server processor, called Tigerton, in the third quarter of 2007. A quad-core processor for high-end desktops and a dual-core processor for servers will be available in November.

By Robert Mullins, IDG News Service (San Francisco Bureau)

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