May 21, 2006 9:00 PM PDT
Server supplier Supermicro taps into Dempsey chip
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Supermicro plans to have 18 different products with the new chip available starting Tuesday, including both motherboards and complete systems, said Ivan Tay, director of product management at the San Jose, Calif., company. All the products are based on Intel's new Bensley platform, which can accommodate both the dual-core Dempsey processor as of Tuesday and the dual-core Woodcrest processor scheduled to arrive next month.
Dempsey is the last gasp for Intel's Netburst architecture in the dual-processor server market. Netburst is being retired in favor of the Core architecture used by Woodcrest because of the need to improve performance without increasing the power consumption of Intel's chips.
Woodcrest is expected to be introduced in June, making for some creative marketing strategies on the part of server companies that are launching products based on both Dempsey and Woodcrest this summer. Intel and its partners plan to market Dempsey processors as low-cost products, with the price of a new Dempsey server from Supermicro the same as the current generation, Tay said.
Usually, the latest and greatest chips from Intel command a price premium, but Intel's top server executive, Pat Gelsinger, told CNET News.com in March that Dempsey would be a chip for customers who are sensitive on price but not as concerned about power consumption.
The new servers come with a faster type of memory known as FB-DIMM. FB-DIMM chips improve memory performance but add about three or four watts of power consumption per memory module, Tay said. However, performance increases so much that the performance per watt ratio of a Supermicro server based on Dempsey is three times better than that of the last generation of products, he said.
Dempsey consumes less power when running at maximum effort than Paxville, Intel's first dual-core server chip--around 90 watts to Paxville's 130 watts. This helps offset the increased power consumption of the FB-DIMM chips and brings Intel's Xeon chips more in line with the power consumption of Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processor.
Last week was a tough one for Intel's server group, which lost its exclusivity with Dell's server operations to AMD. Dell, in a historic shift, will begin selling servers with four or more processors based on AMD's Opteron chips before the end of the year, it announced Thursday.
Supermicro has the largest market share among suppliers of white-box servers, or servers that ship through local distributors or resellers, according to Tay. It also sells motherboards to other vendors that build systems using their own brand name.
Several other server companies are expected to release products based on Dempsey on Tuesday.