IBM Readies First AMD Server Blades, Adds Dual-Core To Rackmount Servers

The LS20 Opteron-based server blades, which were first discussed in April, will be available starting next week, said Tim Dougherty, director of IBM's BladeCenter marketing. The support either one or two single-core or dual-core AMD Opteron processors, he said.

IBM also added dual-core Opteron capability to its rack-mount e326 server. Like the LS20, it can handle one or two single-core or dual-core processors, Dougherty said.

The pending availability of the LS20 server blades is good news to Hunt Russell, sales manager at Evolving Solutions, a Hamel, Minn.-based IBM solution provider. "Opteron is the only 64-bit processor in the x86 space," Russell said. "Why wouldn't you partner with AMD?"

While Russell called IBM's Opteron-based blades a positive move for the company, he said the real test of the success of the new servers comes down to the availability of applications from companies like Oracle and SAP that support the 64-bit processors.

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"With IBM embracing AMD, ISVs will take a new look at AMD and move faster on their applications," he said. "IBM has had Opterons in its high-end servers, but server blades is the real hot space. That's why we're selling so many more."

Starting in July, the LS20 and the e326 servers will be able to be integrated into IBM's eCluster 1350 server cluster solutions, said Dougherty. The 1350 is primarily an Intel-based server cluster, but the company's pSeries p710 and p720 rack-mount servers can also be connected.

The ability to choose from many server options for the 1350 takes a significant part of the complexity out of building clusters, which are now often finding homes in commercial applications, especially in the oil and gas or financial space, Dougherty said. "It's not likely customers will mix and match [pSeries and x86-based] servers, but it's a possibility," he said. "Clusters tend to be homogeneous, but I'm seeing some customers go heterogeneous."