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AMD to move Opteron into storage

Servers came first; storage systems are next to house Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron chip.

Advanced Micro Devices has persuaded some of the world's largest computer buyers to adopt servers running its Opteron chip, and soon it will try to get them to buy it for storage systems.

A number of companies are currently building storage systems running the Opteron chip, said Fred Weber, AMD's chief technnology officer. Some of these systems will appear later this year, although the trend will begin in earnest in 2006.

Storage is one of the next logical steps in the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chipmaker's "x86 everywhere" strategy. Processors designed around the x86 architecture--which was originally devised by Intel, but licensed by AMD--have already conquered the desktop and server world. Putting these chips into storage systems allows storage makers to take advantage of software developed in the computing world.

"Software is hard to develop and port," Weber said.

Storage companies, such as EMC, have largely already incorporated Intel chips into their hardware. In these situations, AMD can compete on performance and price.

Sun Microsystems has already signaled its intent to adopt Opteron in storage in its upcoming Honeycomb storage system debuting later this year. Subsequently, Sun will swap out an Intel Xeon chip from its StorEdge 5210 and 5310 systems with Opteron processors.

Weber also said that a number of start-ups are working on Opteron network attached storage, or NAS, devices, as well as storage area networks, or SANs.

Over the past two years, AMD's presence in corporate computing has changed dramatically. Few companies in the past installed AMD-based servers. Now, AMD's market share in server processors is close to 10 percent. Companies that have bought and installed Opteron servers include America Online, Merrill Lynch, Bell Helicopter and Credit Suisse First Boston.