Dell, AMD team up

After years of working with Intel Corp., Dell Inc. recently launched a pair of PowerEdge servers based on Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) processors that Dell says will meet evolving customer needs.

The first server, the PowerEdge 6950, is a four-socket server designed to support high-performance applications like databases and virtualization. Dell says the 6950 server has performance levels that exceed traditional four-socket servers and consumes up to 20 per cent less power than other four-socket boxes.

The PowerEdge SC1435, a two-socket, rack-dense server, has been built to work with distributed Web serving and small-to-medium-sized businesses.

Debora Jensen, vice-president of Dell’s Advanced Solutions Group, says the choice to incorporate AMD technology into its server platforms was largely about meeting consumer demand.

“There are differences between the manufacturers that lend themselves to our scalable enterprise message. The goal is to standardize the core elements of the data centre by utilizing Dell technology,” Jensen says.

“Our scalable enterprise is geared around three main tenets: cost effective scaling, improved utilization, and simplified operations. AMD as a chip set has been out in the market for a couple of years now and has had a very good adoption rate.”

Dell’s move to AMD is motivated in part by performance-per-watt demands, as well as price-performance, Jensen says.

The ninth-generation PowerEdge servers feature a wide variety of upgrades and tune-ups. Some new features include a programmable LCD that enables quick visual diagnosis of server issues, ImageWatch, a Dell service that helps customers manage changes to system images, SAS hard drives, a TCP/IP Offload Engine to reduce traffic on a host processor to enhance system performance, enhanced virtualization capability and PCI-Express I/O for Ethernet, RAID, InfiniBand and Fibre Channel interconnect technologies.

Jensen also says the AMD chipset offers good value in terms of volume processing.

“Those servers are very conducive to high volume processing, high transaction processing. In the two-socket server, it is a very good niche place for high-performance computing environments and other specific types of applications that it does play well in.”

Michelle Warren, senior IT industry analyst with the Partner Research Corporation, thinks that Dell’s relationship with AMD is a good fit for both companies.

“I think it’s important that Dell partner up with AMD to look for other options when they’re looking to address their market. One of the things that Dell mentioned is that their customers are looking for some AMD products. As a result, they’ve done this move to best provide for their customer,” Warren says.

Warren also says there are potential issues Dell will have to address as it moves towards adopting AMD.

“There are some cost issues on the set-up part, the switching of manufacturers, because they [Dell] have been set up to manufacture with Intel-based product. They did expand that out. The costs will be easily absorbed.”

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