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AMD delivers its own server platform

The low-power platform, formerly code-named Fiorano, offers server builders a combination of a six-core Opteron with a choice of three chipsets from AMD

AMD has launched its first server platform, which brings together its six-core Opteron processor with a chipset aimed at high-density datacentres.

The Six-Core Opteron processor with AMD Chipset platform, formerly code-named Fiorano, was announced on Monday. In addition to supporting the six-core Istanbul version of the Opteron chip, it will also work with the quad-core Shanghai processor, the company said.

Server builders can choose from three new chipsets: the SR5650, which is power-optimised; the SR5670, which is a combination of performance-optimised and power-optimised; and the SR5690, which is performance-optimised.

The chipsets all use the same motherboard socket and drivers, but rely on different numbers of PCI Express lanes and offer different power consumption.

In addition, the three chipsets all provide support for HyperTransport 3.0, PCI Express 2.0 and I/O virtualisation.

The package includes a new platform specification called Kroner, designed to drive down energy consumption for hyper-scale users. Key power-management features within Kroner include voltage regulation and the ability to remotely set power caps.

The platform is designed for high-performance computing (HPC) and cloud-computing services, said Gina Longoria, senior product marketing manager at AMD. "This is absolutely not a general purpose chipset. It's a set of products that provide performance and flexibility to a very specific sort of customer," she said.

Server makers including Tyan and Supermicro are expected to ship products based on the new platform within weeks.

Some manufacturers may welcome the availability of the platform for use with existing low-power AMD processors, but most server makers (and therefore their customers) will be waiting for the arrival of its 12-core Magny-Cours chips in 2010, said Rik Turner, a senior analyst with Ovum.

"That said, I think AMD is definitely heading in the right direction, as this is where the datacentre is headed. People are looking for low-power chipsets because the heat and power in the datacentre is getting monstrous," Turner said. "I can definitely see companies trying this out, especially in systems that are less critical."