AMD: 'We Were Cloud Before Cloud Was Cool'

Last week, at XChange Solution Provider in Los Angeles, AMD detailed its role in cloud computing and how it plans to get solution providers, software vendors, OEMs and hardware manufacturers up to speed on what is sure to be the next big thing.

"The channel is really looking at 'what does cloud computing mean to me for my business,'" said Margaret Lewis, AMD's director of commercial solutions and software and worldwide product marketing.

It's silicon and processors that run the cloud, Lewis said, and AMD has become "an evangelist for cloud computing" despite being lower in the stack. As an evangelist, AMD said it is helping partners, OEMs and vendors understand the infrastructure needed to support the cloud and the new ways of conducting business that it introduces.

"We always look at the cloud from the top down, but you've got to start on the bottom of the stack," Lewis said. Currently, AMD has more than 2 million Opteron Processors powering cloud computing initiatives, Lewis added, noting that Web hosters, social networks and cloud providers are using AMD Opteron processors for their balancing performance, power efficiency and price.

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"We were cloud before cloud was cool," said Gary Bixler, AMD's director of worldwide partner programs.

And AMD is looking to continue its foothold in the cloud when it releases the AMD Opteron 4000 series processors for 1P and 2P servers and Opteron 6000 series processors for 2P and 4P/8P servers.

Lewis said the Opteron 4000 series is a low-power, cost-effective processor that offers levels of performance designed for cloud computing platforms, while the 6000 series is a multi-core processor with low memory footprint. Basically, Lewis said, the Opteron 4000 series runs on devices that build into the cloud and is ideal for transactional and peaky load environments, while the 6000 series features a half of a terabyte of memory and can run virtual machines.

And, Lewis said, AMD Opteron processors have already made strides in cloud and Web hosting environments, and the two new series will continue the momentum.

Lewis said 1&1 Internet Ltd., a U.K.-based Web hosting and domain name registration company, recently launched dedicated servers with Six-Core AMD Opteron processors. Additionally, she said, moved its Oracle databases from Sun SPARC-based systems infrastructure to Dell PowerEdge 905 servers with multi-core AMD Opteron processors running Red Hat Enterprise Linux. AMD's Opteron processors were also in use in Rackspace Cloud Servers in a test environment in which it beat a rival cloud provider which used servers running processors from a competitor in benchmark evaluations.

AMD is looking to start on a platform level and build relationships with the infrastructure needed to run clouds and answer the question "what problems are you trying to solve?" Lewis said the Opteron 4000 is expected to be released in the second quarter while the Opteron 6000 series is expected in the first quarter. Pricing for the 4000 and 6000 series has not yet been released.

The Opteron processors and AMD's plans for the cloud will also give partners a chance to crack into cloud computing as part of AMD's Fusion Partner Program, which merges all of AMD's once disparate partner tracks into a single entity.

Bixler said AMD is approaching the cloud like it does any major technological shift, such as virtualization, 64-bit and other product innovations and will help partners get up to snuff. Bixler said AMD's Fusion Partner Program and the addition of the software partner program as part of Fusion will help partners navigate the new terrain of cloud.

"Those who don't have it figured out are panicked," Bixler said. "It's like the early days of virtualization."