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AMD, IBM muscle up toward HPC market with new chips

Apr 1, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Intel and AMD both announced new high-performance computing (HPC) processors, with Intel unveiling four- to eight-core Xeon 7500 “Nehalem EX” processors and AMD announcing eight- to 12-core Opteron 6000 “Magny-Cours” chips, says eWEEK. Meanwhile, an iSuppli survey says that AMD's semiconductor market share grew 1.6 percent to 12.1 percent in the fourth quarter.

With Intel's rollout of its four- to eight-core Xeon 7500 "Nehalem EX" processors on Tuesday, the company is looking to drive its high-end server chips up into a segment where RISC-based systems and mainframe processors typically hold sway, says a Jeffrey Burt story in our sister publication, eWEEK. AMD (Advanced Micro Devices), meanwhile, is targeting a more mainstream computing space with its Opteron 6000 "Magny-Cours" processors, while offering easier and less expensive paths to migrate some workload from two-socket to four-socket servers, says the story.

Both processor families are claimed to make dramatic jumps in performance, memory bandwidth, and memory capacity, as well as energy efficiency, and are targeting virtualization and cloud computing apps.

Eight-core version of Intel's Xeon 7500 "Nehalem EX"

Intel's Xeon 7500 processors can run in servers with two to 256 sockets, offering three times the performance of the previous Xeon 7400 and up to a terabyte of memory capacity, says the story. In addition, Intel is said to have added 20 new reliability features, similar to those found on high-end RISC or mainframe systems. Workloads from 20 four-socket systems running single-core Xeon MP chips can be placed onto one four-socket Xeon 7500-based system, claims Intel.

The Xeon 7500 line overlaps to some degree with Intel's high-end Itanium processors, but Intel officials say there is room for both platforms, according to the story. IDC analyst Matt Eastwood, however, told Burt that Itanium will continue to be marginalized.

AMD's Opteron 6000 "Magny-Cours"

AMD's Opteron 6000 processors aims a bit lower than the Xeon 7500. It can run in both two- and four-socket systems and both are priced lower than Intel's Xeon 5600 and 7500 chips, says the story. According to Burt, there is a demand among businesses to be able to make the move to four-socket systems to deal with virtualization and high-end workloads such as databases, but without incurring the high costs that come with making such a move through Intel.

"AMD has always done well with performance-oriented workload ([database], HPC and [virtualization]), which resulted in a share that disproportionately skewed to [four-socket servers]," IDC's Eastwood told eWEEK. "AMD is repositioning itself into the mainstream of the market where [two-socket] servers comprise about 80 percent of all x86 volumes live."

iSuppli: AMD inches up

A new iSuppli study says that AMD's worldwide semiconductor revenue market share grew by 1.6 percent points year-over-year to 12.1 percent in the fourth quarter, says another eWEEK story by Burt. AMD's 4Q numbers were said to have shown a 0.28 percentage point increase over its 3Q 2009 numbers.

The chipmaker grabbed market share from both Intel and smaller rivals, says the story. Intel was said to have dropped one percent compared to 4Q 2008, although the company still maintains a dominant 80.6 percent share of the global chip market, says the story. Collectively, smaller suppliers garnered a 7.3 percent market share, down 0.6 points from 4Q 2008, according to iSuppli.

Throughout the recession of 2009, Intel and AMD "aggressively pursued their product road maps, rolling out a host of PC and server chips that offered increasingly better performance, improved energy efficiency metrics and more processing cores," writes Burt. This strategy appears to be accelerating into 2010, he adds, with the new Opteron 6000 and Xeon 7500 processors announced this week, as well as Intel's launch of its six-core Xeon 5600 "Westmere EP" processors last month. AMD will launch its "Lisbon" Opterons in the second quarter, aimed at the one- and two-socket server space, writes Burt.


The eWEEK story on the new Intel Xeon 7500 and AMD Opteron 6000 processors may be found here, and an eWEEK slide show on the processors may be found here.

More on the Intel Xeon 7500 series may be found here.

More on the AMD Opteron 6000 series may be found here.

The eWEEK story on the iSuppli study on AMD and Intel market share may be found here.

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