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A chipset manufacturer may give Advanced Micro Devices an unexpected boost in its bid to claim a larger share of the corporate market.
Nvidia, a Santa Clara, Calif., manufacturer of graphics processors and chipsets, has been quietly rolling out a certification program intended to shore up the quality of third-party desktop and notebook motherboards that use its chipsets coupled with AMD processors. Improving the quality of third-party motherboards has been a hot button for system builders.
Nvidia is working with four motherboard manufacturers and 10 system builders in the United States and 10 system builders in Europe to address the quality issues, CRN has learned. The company wants to roll out the program to the larger system-builder community by the March/April time frame.
Nvidia's Business Partner Platform calls for motherboard manufacturers to use a specific list of components in their products to help ensure product quality, according to David Ragones, product manager for the Nvidia Business Platform. "When there is more control over the bill of materials on these motherboards, system builders have more control over product they are receiving," he said.
Participating in the program also requires rigorous testing by motherboard manufacturers and system builders, Ragones noted. Motherboard makers must go "above and beyond" their normal tests to make sure there are no conflicts or defects in each model. System builders are given a special testing suite written by Nvidia that they must use on each system certified under the Nvidia Business Platform. Systems that meet the platform’s requirements will receive the certification sticker from Nvidia.
Rangones said Nvidia also provides high-quality drivers that can be used with any motherboard certified in the program. "We have a single driver package [they] can deploy regardless of the motherboard within the system," he said.
Nvidia is working on getting motherboards and systems certified and then wants to put together customer testimonials before publicizing the program, Ragones said. Nvidia will begin promoting the program to corporate buyers about the time it rolls it out to system builders, he said.
Doug Phillips, senior director of emerging technologies at Seneca Data, a Syracuse, N.Y.-based system builder participating in the initial program, said the effort could make huge inroads into the corporate market with AMD products. He said Seneca Data is still evaluating the program but believes it has great potential, particularly for its ability to even out the quality of motherboards.
Nvidia's program is part of a larger effort by AMD to ensure corporate IT buyers that they will get a consistent platform for desktop and notebook systems. AMD's Corporate Stable Image Program, unveiled in November, brings together a roster of motherboard makers and chipset suppliers to set a standard platform that will be available for a guaranteed 18 months. Nvidia and ATI Technologies are the two chipset makers participating in the program.
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