Upclose And Personal With AMD And friends

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I've just returned from a trip to AMD's very impressive Customer Engagement Center, part of the company's custom-built corporate offices in Austin, Texas. Apart from from some pretty sophisticated computing and graphics demonstrations -- including a single ATI card driving Google Earth across six screens as if they were one -- most of what I saw and heard I've agreed not to disclose. What they told me was so secret, in fact, that I'm not even allowed to tell you when I'll be able to disclose it. What I can tell you is that when it comes to technology development, neither AMD nor its partners are standing still. Dell was on hand to reveal its plans for the future, which too are hush-hush.

Fortunately, we concluded our trip at the Houston campus of Hewlett-Packard, where the CRN Test Center was given a hands-on look at three new AMD Opteron 6000-based Proliant rack servers, which are set to hit the channel in a few weeks. The latest Magny-Cours Proliant servers, now in their seventh generation, can house as many as 24 cores, double the number of memory channels (to four) and memory capacity (to 256GB) in 24 slots (up from 16), and support for 1333MHz DDR3 memory (from 800MHz DDR2). Direct Connect v2 and HyperTransport v3 architectures provide faster inter-processor and memory transfers, embedded RAID 0/1/5 frees up a card slot, and iLO 3.0 delivers faster remote out-of-band management and support for Linux IRC.

Worthy of note are 460W Gold and 1200W Platinum editions of HP's Common Slot power supply, which work in Proliant G7 servers and which HP says will soon be the standard for most HP servers with plug-in power. Common Slot power supplies allow power to be tailored to system needs and simplify inventories of replacement parts.

Fit and finish were top of mind in the DL165 1U rack server and SL165z scale out node, and particularly in the 2U dual-node Proliant DL385, with not a sharp edge in sight (or feel). Cables and system wiring were routed and affixed securely to the chasis. System hard drive trays (there are two) are easily removed with the flip of a lever, which doubles as a carry handle.

As in earlier models, there's room for as many eight small (or six large) form factor SATA, SAS or SDD drives for data storage. Estimated street prices start at $1,449.

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