AMD Demonstrates Opteron in 4-Way Server

At a technology conference in Taiwan, chipmaker AMD demonstrated its upcoming 64-bit processors running in a four-processor server.

It was the first time AMD had demonstrated greater-than-two-processor scalability for its chips. The demonstration opens the way for AMD to compete more aggressively with Intel in the server market.

AMD's demonstration used its AMD Opteron processors, 64-bit chips that are based on the x86 architecture. The chips present a clear choice for users of standard high-volume servers because Intel's Itanium family of 64-bit processors use a new architecture. The emulation environment provided in Itanium for backward compatibility with 32-bit applications carries a substantial performance penalty.

AMD expects to begin shipping its Opteron processors in the first half of 2003. AMD plans to scale its Opteron chips to allow eight-processor configurations.

The four-way demonstration ran on Linux, although Microsoft has agreed to build support for AMD's 64-bit processor into future Windows operating systems. The demo used four AMD Opteron processors to run a 32-bit Web server on top of a 64-bit SuSE Linux operating system.

Intel has a strong hold on the market for industry-standard servers running Windows and Linux, a market where AMD's previous lack of SMP scalability limited its appeal. Intel has sold its own eight-processor chipset for its 32-bit Pentium III Xeon line for three years and has had four-way boards available for considerably longer. Third-party designs allow Intel processors to combine in up to 32-processor machines.

About the Author

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