August 16, 2006 10:50 PM PDT

Dell, AMD expected to expand chip pact

Dell, the last of the big four server makers to accept Advanced Micro Devices' chips into its product portfolio, is expected to announce Thursday that it's expanding its partnership with the chipmaker to include new AMD-based servers, desktops and laptops.

Dell already scrapped its longtime Intel exclusivity in May, committing to sell a four-processor server with AMD's Opteron by the end of the year. That's a relatively high-end niche for the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker, but sources familiar with the company's plans expect a broader alliance to be announced Thursday afternoon, when Dell reports quarterly financial results.

One source expected Dell to announce plans to sell dual-processor Opteron servers, a segment of the market with much higher sales volumes than for four-processor machines. Another expected the alliance to include desktop and notebook computers as well.

In the server arena, a likely option is be a rack-mounted model 3.5 inches thick, a size that permits useful features such as moderate storage capacity and redundant power supplies.

Dell and AMD declined to comment on this report. However, Dell and AMD executives told CNET Asia that AMD-based notebooks are due as soon as October; AMD also said that the partnership includes desktop computers.

Such a move in the server market would catch Dell up with its three main rivals, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun Microsystems. Sun and HP already had a full line of Opteron servers, and IBM followed suit earlier this month.

A broader AMD alliance also would be a new blow to Intel, which remains dominant in the x86 server market but which has seen AMD encroach to 26 percent of the market. Intel's new Xeon 5100 "Woodcrest" processor, introduced in June, is now competitive with Opteron both on performance and on electrical power consumption, but analysts agree that AMD won't be pushed out of the market soon.

AMD on Tuesday introduced its "Rev F" generation of Opteron servers at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, adding faster memory and new circuitry to help with a popular new technology called virtualization. All Rev F models have dual processing cores; systems built for Rev F chips also will accommodate quad-core successors due in 2007.

Intel's Woodcrest processors are dual-core chips, but Intel in 2006 plans to release an upgrade that packages two in a single module, meaning that a single processor socket will have four processing cores.

For higher-end systems with four processors, Intel has begun selling its dual-core "Tulsa" Xeon processor, which unlike Woodcrest is based on the electricity-hungry and all-but-discontinued NetBurst architecture. Tulsa compensates by using a huge 16MB of on-board high-speed cache memory, but the high-performance model will consume up to 150 watts compared with 80 watts for Woodcrest.

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12 comments

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What horrible...
timing. Intel releases its new core stuff that allows them to re-take the performance and power consumption lead and Dell announces more AMD offerings. Who is going to want them?

I guess until the core version for 4 way servers comes out AMD will be the best choice for 4 way servers. To bad for them that this market segment is so small.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
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Zealots
You forget, there's as many anti-Intel zealots in this world as there is anti-Microsoft.
Posted by Gronar Snaggletooth (35 comments )
Link Flag
Maybe Because...
Well Lets see here why would someone not like an intel cpu? for one, They Are super expensive. For 2, AMD Does 2 times as much as intel does per clock cycle. And For 3, Intels cpu have this bad habit of melting.

There's your top 3, other reasons may include but are not limited to: Upgradability, Haha you try and find a better intel cpu down the road when yours is to slow/broke that has the same Socket/slot type, The Scandals between MS & intel where intel had "Back Doors" in there cpu, Proprietary, Perhaps the worst thing of all, You Cant just run down to the store pay 50 bucks and have an extra 512MB of DDR or SDRAM, Ohhh No, Cant do that, We have to have Special ram.

Im sure there's more...

A little clarification on my 2nd reason, AMDs cpus do 2 times the amount of stuff in each clock cycle and to prove it, AMD has a naming system like so: AMD 2000+ for example, The 2000+ Means that its comparable to the 2.0GHZ Intel EVEN THOUGH IT ONLY RUNS AT 1.2GHZ. another example using my current cpu, AMD 64 3500+ this means that its comparable to the INTEL 3.5GHZ cpu and again AMD 64 3500+ only runs at 2.2GHZ. so its not always 2 times the amount but it does do more in each clock cycle and because of that you have a more efficient and cooler cpu.
Posted by G.Nuisance (10 comments )
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Trickle-down effect
I think what we're seeing here is a trickle-down effect from needing one AMD-based system. Right now Intel has absolutely nothing to compete with 4-socket AMD systems, and they won't for some time (Intel just demonstrated their latest and greatest "Tulsa" Xeon chip for 4-socket servers, and it's still using the old NetBurst core). Dell was getting hammered in this market, so they really need an AMD-based solution.

However having one AMD-based system breaks Dell's exclusivity to Intel chips. This means changes not only in their co-marketing deals, special discounts and whatnot that they might get from Intel, but also changes in their supply chain parts stocking. Once they've done the leg-work to add AMD as a parts supplier for one system, the disincentive to do so for other systems disappears. There are still many price points where AMD has a much better solution than Intel (basically everything bellow the new "Core" chips).

As for why it took so long? Corporate inertia is probably partly to blame. However it also wasn't until last year that AMD really started wiping the floor with Intel in the 4-socket server area. Before that Intel's marketing was managing to hold back the flood despite a vastly inferior product. It couldn't last forever though and eventually it was just costing Dell too much money not to compete in this market.
Posted by Hoser McMoose (182 comments )
Link Flag
Many people wants AMD dual cores.
Between now until 2007, you wouldn't find many C2Ds. For Intel, anything below C2Ds is craps. A lot of people are waiting for AMD to price cut on its dual cores.

Intel:
80% Netburst / 20% C2D by year end.

And no, Intel wouldn't have a solution for 4P+ market until they are releasing CSI. Intel's bottleneck is its ancient FSB.
Posted by tony_z (32 comments )
Link Flag
t
Just because Intel is gaining again doesn't mean AMD is out.
Posted by Spyderman4g63 (9 comments )
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Never
said AMD was out. But logically if you were buying a desktop, laptop or server up to two CPU's you would want an a core CPU unless the AMD CPU system was a lot cheaper.

If you were wanting a 4 CPU server you would logically want a system with AMD cpu's...unless the Intel offering was a lot cheaper.

I say "logically"......not fanboy logic but real logic.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
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