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Amdahl Unveils Eight-Way Xeon

While much of the industry is patiently awaiting standardized building blocks to emerge from Intel Corp. to construct eight-way Xeon-based Windows NT servers, Amdahl Corp. (Sunnyvale, Calif., www.amdahl.com) is trying to leapfrog the competition. The company plans to preview its proprietary eight-way server design this week at the Comdex/Enterprise trade show in San Francisco.

Called the Fujitsu Teamserver M831I, the machine will include up to 8 Pentium II Xeon processors, ten 64-bit PCI slots, and can support up to 16 GB of memory. The machine will use two 4-processor chassis that will be interconnected to create an eight-way system.

The Synfinity interconnect bridges the system bus of each quad processor block through a special connector designed into the processor boards by Intel specifically for Fujitsu’s design. "The quad boards are based around a special variant of the Aspen board set," says Jeff Broughton, Amdahl manager of server marketing. Broughton says the variation is largely limited to the interconnect adapter, which he describes as being "literally like a fifth processor."

The NUMA-like design that Amdahl/Fujitsu is using bears similarities to other NUMA designs that have been widely discussed as potential solutions for achieving scalable designs for Pentium servers, but few such designs have been successfully implemented for Windows NT. NUMA systems, however, have been successfully marketed and offered by companies such as Sequent Computer Systems Inc. (Beaverton, Ore., www.sequent.com) running variations of Unix.

Amdahl maintains that the Synfinity interconnect technology is faster and more efficient than other NUMA technologies. Broughton says the interconnect functions at 800 MBps per direction, for a net total bandwidth of 1.6 GBps. The company says it has not conducted any performance testing on the eight-way configurations and is unable to release any performance data.

Amdahl’s Broughton contends the Synfinity architecture not only gives Amdahl a faster time to market than competitors using Intel’s Corollary-developed interconnect technology, it also will be cheaper. Broughton says a 2-chassis, four-processor system will cost less than $40,000, while a fully populated eight-way system with 4 GB of memory will cost over $100,000. – Al Gillen, Editor in Chief

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.