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HP to Ship Opteron-based Systems

HP on Tuesday formalized an arrangement with AMD to deliver servers based on AMD's Opteron 64-bit processor. The announcement comes less than a week after Intel disclosed what it called its "worst kept" secret, that it would ship a 32-bit Xeon processor with 64-bit extensions comparable to AMD's technology.

News of HP's plans for Opteron came out in news reports late last month. HP, a co-developer with Intel of the Itanium 64-bit processor, also is committed to Intel's 32-bit extensions for Xeon.

With Intel's latest announcement, there are three 64-bit technologies for industry-standard servers, and HP will ship systems with all three. Intel Itanium is the oldest of the three and the highest-performing. Itanium chips power massive SMP systems with up to 64 processors and several vendors plan to roll out even larger systems. The AMD Opteron, and AMD's related Athlon64, use the x86 instruction set that 32-bit Intel chips use, making those 64-bit processors capable of running existing 32-bit applications and high-memory applications. Last week, Intel announced its "Nocona" processor, a new Xeon 32-bit processor that will include 64-bit extensions.

A team of Gartner analysts put out an opinion earlier this month on the rumored HP-AMD collaboration. "HP is not the first major vendor partner for AMD," the Gartner analysts wrote. "[But] Gartner believes that HP's embrace of Opteron will create waves throughout the server industry."

The Gartner team said those waves would take the form of forcing IBM to broaden its Opteron commitment, forcing Dell to take another look at Opteron and creating confusion around market opportunities for Itanium. One of Gartner's other predictions has already come to pass, whether it was influenced by the HP decision or not -- that Intel would have to unveil whether or not it would do anything with its rumored "Yamhill" technology. Yamhill has morphed into the Nocona processor, and Intel expects to make it available within a few months.

In an announcement on Tuesday, HP positioned the AMD decision as consistent with the company's theme of giving customers choices. "Today's announcement builds on our consistent efforts to provide customers with the world's broadest standards-based server portfolio," Scott Stallard, HP's senior vice president and general manager for Enterprise Storage and Servers, said in a statement.

HP plans to offer two AMD Opteron-based ProLiant servers in the first half of this year. The HP ProLiant DL145 will be a two-processor server that fits in 1U of rack space. The HP ProLiant DL585 will be a four-way system in a 4U design. In the second half of the year, the company plans to ship an Opteron-based two-processor HP ProLiant blade server.

About the Author

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

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