Dell soon to serve up AMD

Summary:Dell's latest PowerEdge servers may be an all-Intel team, but there's an AMD super-slab warming up on the sidelines.Introducing the new range to the Asia-Pacific media and analysts at an enterprise event in Singapore this week, Dell's regional enterprise head, Damien Crotty, highlighted that the four models can use either Intel's 5000 series dual-core Xeon "Dempsey" processor or the new 5100 series "Woodcrest" chips built with Intel's new core microarchitecture.

Dell's latest PowerEdge servers may be an all-Intel team, but there's an AMD super-slab warming up on the sidelines.

Introducing the new range to the Asia-Pacific media and analysts at an enterprise event in Singapore this week, Dell's regional enterprise head, Damien Crotty, highlighted that the four models can use either Intel's 5000 series dual-core Xeon "Dempsey" processor or the new 5100 series "Woodcrest" chips built with Intel's new core microarchitecture.

The Woodcrest systems are expected to offer greater grunt than the lower-priced Dempsey servers, but their lower power consumption and thus higher "performance per watt" ratio are likely to extend their appeal beyond sticker price alone.

Dell's "ninth generation" PowerEdge squad -- so-named because it's the ninth range refresh since Dell entered the server space in 1996 -- ranges from a slim 1U rack model to blade and expandable tower servers.

Crotty says that Dell made "several design changes as a result of customer feedback, partly in the area of useability". This includes a small LCD screen on each server's front panel which display simple status messages and error warnings without the technician needing to log into the management console.

However, Crotty expanded on the company's previous announcement that Dell would break with its Intel-only tradition and release an AMD server by year's end.

"There will be an AMD product that Dell introduces within the high-end space sometime in the latter part of this year," Crotty told ZDNet Australia.

Based on earlier comments by Dell CEO Kevin Rollins, the AMD partnership could initially be limited to a four-way server running AMD's Opteron multiprocessor.

Crotty believes that the performance gains from Intel's dual-core Xeon chips make most multiprocessing servers irrelevant to a large proportion of Dell's current and potential customers.

"We don't see symmetrical multiprocessing as an architecture that's relevant in today's computing environment. In fact, if you look at eight-way, 16-way and 32-way from an aggregate growth perspective they're in double-digit decline. The majority of customers, about 82 percent of customers across this region, are deploying one- and two-way systems.

"We believe that instead of scaling up, which is what you do with eight-way and upwards, scaling out -- adding systems as you require them -- allows customers to drive higher CPU utilisation rates, so they're most cost-effective and offer a better return on investment for business."

Crotty also flagged a strong trend among Dell's customers away from pure Unix systems to Linux and Microsoft platforms, especially when running Oracle.

"The compound aggregate growth rate of Oracle on open infrastructure, which is AMD and Intel, is approximately 48 percent over the next five years. If you look at it from a Unix/Oracle perspective the market is planned to depreciate by approximately 12 percent over the next five years, so we're expecting a large number of customers to move away from Unix-oriented platforms to Oracle on Microsoft or Oracle on Linux, both on Intel-based systems."

Crotty cited cost and bang for buck as the prime movers behind this shift. "It's about cost control from both acquisition and asset and lifecycle management perspectives, as well as price-performance. You can effectively get the same level of performance for about one-fifth of the cost."

David Flynn travelled to Singapore as a guest of Dell.

Topics: Processors, Dell

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