Intel links with Cray for supercomputers, denting AMD

The two companies enter into a multiyear agreement on high-performance computing. That's not going to sit well with AMD.

Supercomputer expert Cray and Intel have entered a multiyear agreement on high-performance computing, a deal that seems to leave rival Advanced Micro Devices in the lurch.

Under the alliance, Intel will provide chips and silicon expertise to Cray, which in turn will design supercomputers and servers around Intel's chips. Cray, one of the oldest names in supercomputing, has been on a comeback trail in recent years by producing computers based around AMD's Opteron chip.

AMD, however, has had problems following on the success of the first generations of Opteron, a server chip that came out in 2003. A four-core chip, Barcelona, was delayed. AMD also delayed shipments of a follow-on chip, code-named Budapest, to Cray. As a result, Cray had to delay its XT4 supercomputer.

Meanwhile, Intel has reinvigorated its chip designs. While Intel server chips lagged in performance compared with AMD chips four years ago, Intel now claims the performance crown. Intel is also inserting high-speed input/output links in future generations of chips, an architectural feature that helped the early versions of Opteron outdo Intel's server chips.

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