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Opteron heading for four-way servers

Servers containing up to four of the processors will hit the market later this quarter, a key element in Advanced Micro Devices' strategy to penetrate the corporate market.

Servers containing up to four Opteron processors will hit the market later this quarter, a key element in Advanced Micro Devices' strategy to penetrate the corporate market.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chipmaker--in conjunction with server start-up Newisys--has created a four-processor server, code-named Quartet, that will hit the market later this quarter, said Ben Williams, director of the server and workstation business segment at AMD. The chipmaker created the basic reference design. Newisys works with various computer makers to devise implementations of Quartet for commercial release.

"(Computer makers) take the designs and modify them, but you will see designs based on Quartet in the market late in the second quarter," Williams said. Workstations based on Opetron, meanwhile, should arrive late in the second quarter to early in the third quarter.

Two-processor servers based on Opteron, along with a host of chipsets and complimentary software, will be formally unveiled Tuesday at a news conference in New York.

RackSaver and Newisys, among others, are expected to show off servers that will start about $1,500 with one chip, but will generally sell for $5,000 to $8,000 when fully stocked.

While the two-processor server market remains fairly new territory for AMD, the four-processor server market is an entirely foreign nation. The company has never had a chip for this market. Intel entered the market in a substantial way only a few years ago. Typically, four-way servers sell for more than two-way models.

Part of the reason AMD has been able to move relatively quickly into the four-processor server market lies in HyperTransport, the input-output mechanism that links Opteron chips. Typically, two-, four- and eight-processor servers all use different types of chipsets. The more processors a server has, the more difficult it is to develop a chipset.

By contrast, the chipset is the same for all Opteron chipsets. A four-processor server, in other words, is just two twos linked together, company executives have said.

AMD and Newisys have been working together for some time to popularize Opteron chips. In January, the two kicked off Beachhead, a program designed to place two-processor servers into Fortune 500 accounts, Williams said.