The road to Barcelona

AMD wants to assure system builders that when its first four-core CPU is released shortly, bare-bones systems will be ready for them.

The chipmaker’s vehicle is this week’s annual Computex show in Taiwan, where original design manufacturers Supermicro, Tyan and Uniwide today displayed Opteron servers running the x86 ‘Barcelona’ Quad-Core processor.

“We want to send a clear message to the channel that AMD is taking the right steps to ensure they’ve got validated server platforms out there early so they can take advantage of some of this new technology,” said Ron Meyers, divisional manager for AMD’s channel validated solutions division.

“One of the big advantages the channel has is time to market,” he said. “They’re always willing to be very aggressive with new technology. We’re making sure they have some outstanding quality platforms to present early.”

White box servers will be available when the chip launches “this summer,” he said.Among the AMD system builders looking forward to the quad core chip’s release is Maurice Hilarius, president of Edmonton’s Hard Data Ltd., which builds and distributes high performance Linux and Unix workstations and servers on its own chassis or those built by Tyan.

“We’re eagerly awaiting it,” he said of the chips, adding he hopes to receive samples to work on this month.

“The power consumption is supposed to be as good as what we’ve seen from the dual core Opterons,” he said.

Although Intel started the four-core era only six months ago with its Xeon 5300-series, there’s already significant demand from customers, he said.

But Hilarius calls the Intel chips “a bit of a place-holder” because, unlike Barcelona, they’re not true four-core processors, defined as four cores on one piece of silicon die. Instead, the current Intel chips have two dual core chips in one package.

Intel’s true quad-core chips won’t be on the market until next year, a fact AMD likes to push.

For its part, Intel says its Quad-core Xeon servers are on the market now and satisfying customers.

The ODM servers being shown in Taiwan are:

–Tyan’s Transport TA26 2U rack server, which supports up to 64GB of DDR2 memory and up to eight hot-swap SAS hard drive bays and includes two gigabit Ethernet LANs;

— Supermicro’s AS-4021M-T2R+, which has an 800-watt high-efficiency redundant power supply;

–and Uniwide’s UniServer 1512, which supports up to 32 GB of memory and two hot-swappable 3.5-inch SATA drives.

No prices were announced.

Meyers also said AMD wants to emphasize at the Computex show that the Barcelona chip also includes nested paging tables, an architecture said to give near native performance on virtualized systems, and what the chipmaker calls Dual Dynamic Power Management, which will let administrators separately manage power demands for memory and CPUs.

Meanwhile, as AMD and Intel battle to be fastest to release multiple-core processors, they’re also engaged in a costly price war.

Asked how long AMD, the smaller of the companies, can sustain such a battle, Meyers shrugged. The semiconductor business has always been tough, he said, but AMD has a long product roadmap that pushes innovation.

“We’re confident we’ll do well,” he said.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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