Server makers adopt AMD's new 16-core chips

HP, IBM, and Dell to offer AMD's new 16-core Opteron chips in servers

Server vendors on Monday came out in support of AMD's latest Opteron 6200 server chips, which advance chip technology to new highs with 16 processor cores.

Top server makers Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and IBM are refreshing server lines with the new Opteron chips, which include between four and 16 cores. Code-named Interlagos, the new chips are 25 percent to 30 percent faster than their predecessors, the 12-core Opteron 6100 chips.

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A larger number of cores on AMD's chips could bring servers more performance on specific applications while cutting power consumption, said Dan Olds, principal analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group.

Servers with the new AMD chips will deliver more speed to virtualized environments, applications such as databases, and high-performance computing, Olds said. More cores in servers provide more granularity in breaking down workloads and will also help consolidate servers inside a data center.

"AMD has ... pushed the core counts significantly higher than Intel, and they've got some parity at the midrange and high-end," Olds said. Intel offers up to 10 cores on its server chips.

Intel processors may provide better raw performance, but AMD also provides more bang for the buck with its chip, Olds said. With companies looking to cut costs, AMD provides better performance-per-watt with its new chips compared to competitive offerings from Intel.

The Opteron 6200 chips are based on a new processor architecture called Bulldozer from AMD. The architecture mixes the CPU integer floating point units for faster and power-efficient performance.

HP on Monday introduced five Proliant G7 servers with AMD's new server chips. HP's servers peak out at 2,048 cores per rack, adding up to 33 percent more cores than predecessors, the company said. The servers deliver up to 35 percent greater performance when running specific applications.

The servers will become available starting on Nov. 29 and include BL465c, which starts at $2,679; BL685c, starting at $9,559; ProLiant DL385, starting at $3,699; DL585, starting at $6,309; and DL165, starting at $1,559.

IBM will refresh its System x 3755 M3 rack server with AMD's new chips, said Jim Smith, an IBM spokesman. The system will likely be available sometime in December.

The IBM four-socket server is for virtualized environments or applications such as databases, Smith said. With 16 cores, the server is also an option for those who want high-performance servers at an affordable price.

The System x 3755 M3 is the only server offered by IBM with AMD chips. Performance metrics on the new System x server will be released soon, Smith said.

Dell will include the new AMD chips in servers, but did not provide a release date.

The chips will also be available in servers from Acer and Cray in the coming weeks, AMD said. Ahead of the SC11 supercomputing conference now going on in Seattle, Cray said it was building a supercomputer called Blue Waters at the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications. The system will have 49,000 16-core processors and deliver peak performance of 11.5 petaflops. Cray is replacing IBM, which was originally contracted to build the system.

Also at SC11, vendor Amax showed two servers -- 1U and 2U systems -- that can accommodate up to four 16-core processors. The HA-1402 1U server can accommodate up to four 16-core chips in its chassis, and three 3.5 hot-swap drive bays. The HA-2403 2U server has more space for additional storage and solid-state drive caching capabilities.

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