HP, Dell and Acer on board with new AMD server processors

Eight and 12-core Magny Cours processors set to make four-socket servers more viable

AMD has announced new eight and 12-core x86 server processors that are set to challenge the "second wave" of server requirements from enterprises.

The processors will be used in servers from hardware partners Dell, HP, Acer, Cray, Xenon and Digicor.

Where AMD previously offered three different platforms to cater for one to eight-socket servers, the processor manufacturer will now only offer two for all server platforms. The Opteron 6000 series, announced this week, will cater to four-socket platforms, as well as higher-end two-socket servers. The Opteron 4000 "Lisbon" series processors are expected sometime before July, and will cater to one-socket and lower-end two-socket servers.

Each processor has four memory channels and supports four DIMM slots each, allowing for up to 96GB of memory on a two-socket server.

The Magny-Cours Opteron 6000 processors utilise the same basic Phenom architecture as AMD's previous server processors. According to AMD Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Brian Slattery, the 12-core processors are essentially two six-core processors bonded on the same processor.

A completely new processor architecture is expected some time next year when AMD release the "Interlagos" 12-core and 16-core server processors based on the "Bulldozer" core. AMD's G34 socket will be compatible with all server processors released both this and next year, allowing vendors to swap out the Magny-Cours processors for faster alternatives when released.

Slattery said that the use of a single chipset over several server platforms would ensure "4P servers are more accessible than they are today." It also meant that IT managers could apply the same APIs, same BIOS code and same drivers across different AMD servers regardless of the amount of sockets they had.

According to Slattery, enterprises were continuing the move towards cloud computing and virtualisation on servers, but were also looking toward hetereogeneous computing; the integration of the processor and graphics architecture in a single platform.

Richard Huang, Sales Director for Digicor, told Computerworld Australia that "for 4P onwards, the pricing will be cheaper than previous generations".

AMD hasn't announced local pricing for the new servers, but did reveal US recommended pricing, which ranges from $US266 for a low-end eight-core processor to $1386 for the 6176 SE 12-core processor. Ten processors will be available in total, with clock speeds ranging from 1.8Ghz to 2.3Ghz.

HP has already announced a new line of ProLiant G7 servers that utilise the Opteron 6100 processors. The ProLiant DL165 G7, ProLiant DL385 G7 rack servers and ProLiant SL165z G7 “skinless” server will be available from May this year with configurations starting at $2,499. The G7 servers offer technologies which allegedly cut power consumption by as much as 96 percent over a power-equivalent array of 23 G4 servers.

Huang said that he expected new Digicor servers with Opteron 6000 processors in mid to end April.

"We're still waiting for the motherboard vendor to get the full scale of the motherboard to be released," he said. "There's a couple of models that have started rolling out."

Dell declined to comment, and spokespeople from Acer and Xenon were not available at time of writing.

Slattery said that the processors had generated a lot of interest both internationally and locally, but that there had been no sign-offs from end-users on the servers in Australia.