IBM Takes AMD Line To High End

The move, widely expected in the industry, brings IBM Opteron-based four-way systems and more robust two-way systems. IBM didn't provide specifications, ship dates and price points for the products. IBM said it will release more details when AMD announces its next servers. That date is pegged for Aug. 15, according to an AMD spokesman.

Plans call for IBM to release Opteron-based two-socket and four-socket blades; a four-socket, high-memory model for business computing; a two-socket model for high-performance computing; and two-way business-performance computing models.

IBM said all the servers are engineered to take full advantage of AMD's dual-core processors. Executives said a patent-pending technology will ensure that memory runs at 667MHz, even when the system is packed with more than four DIMMS. In such cases, systems traditionally revert back to 533MHz, according to IBM. The systems also contain additional I/O slots so that customers can expand attachments by more than 33 percent. Power supplies for each unit are 90 percent efficient.

Each server also will ship with a robust package of tools to manage power and virtualization workloads, IBM said. The company also had announced power-saving tools for its Intel Xeon-based systems in June.

Sponsored post

An early supporter of AMD, IBM rolled out its first Opteron server in 2003. But IBM failed to expand the line, which allowed rivals Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems to gain traction in that market.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD has increasingly gained share in the server market--particularly in dual-core servers, where rival Intel's technology has lagged. Intel recently released the Xeon "Woodcrest" dual-core server processor ahead of schedule to address that situation, yet AMD already has secured significant traction in servers. At the end of the first quarter, AMD claimed one-fourth of the U.S. server market and nearly one-half of the U.S. four-way server market, according to research firm Gartner.

Nathan Coutinho, System X and virtualization product manager at Berbee Information Networks, an IBM partner based in Madison, Wis., said IBM's new AMD servers address a gap in Big Blue's product line. Without a variety of AMD-based options, Berbee has been losing sales to HP and Sun, both of which have a more robust AMD server lineup, he said. Sun, for example, recently announced a four-way blade system and an eight-way rack server for its popular line of AMD-based servers.

IBM's new offerings--expanded from the previous cluster-capable, high-performance systems to add support for more processors and high-availability options, such as dual-power supplies--are something that Berbee customers have been demanding.

"Customers want a four-way, or they want more availability in a two-way," Coutinho said.