AMD's Server Progression

Marty Seyer, senior vice president of AMD’s commercial business segment, crowed about the chip maker’s strength in the server space and said AMD has increased its 2006 year-end goal to 30 percent market-share penetration, up from 20 percent.

At the end of the first quarter, AMD, Sunnyvale, Calif., held 25.7 percent of the U.S. server market and 15.3 percent of the worldwide server market, according to research firm Gartner.

“We are resetting our [server market-share penetration] target based on the momentum we have had,” Seyer said.

Looking out past dual-core servers, AMD CTO Phil Hester said its quad-core processor will have four true cores. “It is not a dual-core glued together,” he said.

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The chip will have dedicated L1 and L2 cache for each core plus a shared 2-Mbyte L3 cache design that can be expanded in the future, Hester said. In addition, AMD plans to work to increase the number of instructions—including floating-point instructions, which are important for graphics and high-performance computing—that can be processed at one time. I/O and memory controller speed will be scaled up to handle the increased load from four cores, he said.

John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun Microsystems’ Systems Group, is close to releasing a new Opteron-based product line that will give x86 systems, which typically have a shorter life cycle than higher-end RISC-based systems, a lifespan of five to six years.

Four-core, eight-core and new memory such as FB-DIMM (fully buffered DIMM) can be accommodated over time without having to switch motherboards, Fowler said. “It’s not just about the speed of the pipeline, it’s about the building blocks of the pipeline,” he said.

As first reported by CRN, AMD also disclosed plans, code-named Torrenza, to let system makers couple Opteron processors with co-processors for specialized applications, such as high-performance computing, advanced security and XML and Java applications. These co-processors currently can be plugged into an extra hypertransport link or an empty socket in a dual-socket system.

Hester said AMD also is exploring integrating these co-processors onto the processor die in the future. “We are laying the foundation today and [will] watch technologies as they evolve in the future,” he said.

AMD also announced two other platforms, Trinity and Raiden. The Trinity platform will couple security, virtualization and management.

Seyer said AMD will be putting an open management partition that is extensible for partners “in part of the core of DDR2” memory in next-generation processors. AMD will pair that with its virtualization technology and its security plans, code-named Pacifica.

Intel has been touting a similar, though proprietary, scheme via its vPro platform using its corporate desktop chip, code-named Conroe, which is expected to ship in July.

The Raiden platform is focused on a “virtual desktop” environment where many capabilities are delivered to a client device from a server or blade system. Unlike some vendors, who are pushing the virtual desktop for thin clients, AMD executives said they believe a variety of models will be available from very small thin clients to small form-factor desktops.

For the mobile space, AMD promised a newly designed chip in 2007 that would significantly improve power management, both in the core and I/O functions.

System builders have been calling for AMD to get into the chipset business to help offer a more stable platform option and liked what they heard at the briefing.

Nathan Archer, president of X1.0, a system builder in Brooklyn, N.Y., said the AMD offerings represent a watershed event aimed at changing the CPU landscape.

“They are trying to change the whole computing industry with quad core, lower power consumption, dedicated L1 and L2 cache and the shared L3 cache,” Archer said. “Their price point is going to be a lot lower than Intel’s. A lot of integrators may consider utilizing AMD as their primary choice,” he said.

“A lot of corporations are going to look at this quad-core platform,” said Jerry Oary, CEO of Superior Computers, an AMD system builder in Perkin, Ill. “This is going to give them more computing power in less rack space and a higher return on their investment.”

AMD’s briefing came just one day after the industry was abuzz with speculation that AMD would acquire chipset maker ATI Technologies, but AMD officials offered no comment.