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Dell to Use AMD Chips in its Servers 227

garfangle writes "Dell has decided to include AMD's Opteron processor in its product line of servers. This is the first time Dell has used AMD chips within its own Dell branded products (excluding the recently acquired Alienware computers)." From the article: "The deal appears to be confined to servers at this point. The news came along with the release of Dell's earnings results, which were in line with the disappointing warning the company provided last week. Revenue was $14.2 billion, up 6 percent from last year, but net income slid 18 percent to $762 million. Several times during the last few years, Dell CEO Kevin Rollins has hinted that the company was right around the corner from introducing products based on AMD's chips."
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Dell to Use AMD Chips in its Servers

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  • Yes, but when... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:37PM (#15361146) Journal
    ...will this get to the workstations! That's where I need my horsepower.
    • by karnal ( 22275 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:59PM (#15361326)
      Buy some earplugs and mount the server under your desk. Kills 2 birds with one stone... or 2 stones...
      • Simpler solution: build your own tower. I have a whisper-quiet dual Opteron 8gig, 600gig SATA raid 10 server under my desk right now. Just pick the right case, right power supply, right fans. It can be done -- effectively and cheaply.

        I have no idea what's wrong with the stupid noisy-ass box vendors. My box is all OEM parts, freely available from Newegg. My CPUs run nice and cool. 105 and 107 at the moment, for example. So WTF?
        • Re:Simple solution: (Score:4, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @07:03PM (#15361703) Homepage Journal

          It's possible to get noisy boxes from vendors who build them from commodity parts, too. Some guys from a Scala vendor (we bought infochannel from 'em) brought in a couple of 4U systems that were meant to be designer workstations, where you create content. One of them, the one in my office, has to be on all the time because part of our service contract states that we have to use their hardware, which of course is just commodity stuff, and the network manager software is on my system.

          Now of course this is braindead anyway, because the network manager component uses very standard protocols and needs only bandwidth and some disk space, it needs practically no CPU. I have an old Network Engines RoadsterLX box with a Celery 466 that could do the job more than adequately... not that I'm suggesting we use it, but we could get a cheapier dell 1U box and throw that into the mix.

          Instead, what we got was some cheap-ass commodity hardware in a 4U rack case that, I shit you not, is at least as loud as the Sun 4/260 that I used to sit at. For those who don't know, that's a 12-slot VME deskside case, about the size of six extra-large pizza boxes stacked on top of one another, then turned sideways. (Note that I'm talking about actual pizza boxes, not Sun "pizza boxes".) That machine's power supply was about the size of one of those little HP Brio celeron-based POS PCs, or an SGI Indigo.

          So an ordinary Pentium IV, an nVidia card of some sort (PCI-E), three hard drives, and a DVD-ROM, and it's got damn near enough fans to lift off and fly away... WTF?

        • The system that I'm currently considering building (to replace my old Dual-Opteron 2Ghz single-core system that I use for video editing):

          Antec p180b case (fairly new on the market)
          Tiger K8WE (S2877) []
          (2) Opteron 270/275/280 chips
          4GB RAM
          WinXP Pro (32bit still, not comfortable with 64bit yet)

          Probably a 500W P/S. Pair of 400GB PATAs and (4) 400GB SATAs.

          Noise-wise it shouldn't be terribly bad. The current unit is crammed into a Antec Sonata case but with only (4) HDs. The big key is the 120mm fans i
    • You can buy AMD Opteron workstations from Sun right now. I believe IBM and HP offer solutions too.

      I wouldn't mind dell pricing on an AMD system though. I've got a precision 650 dual xeon that could use replacing in a year or two.
    • J & N Computer Services []

      Two dual-core Opteron 275s (i.e., quad core), 8 Gb ECC RAM, 1 Tb SATA HDD (RAID), 1 kW PSU, NVidia GeForce 6600, 19" LCD panel. $6k when I bought my machine last November.

      • I'm portable. Precision M70, 2GB RAM, 1.86 P-M, nVidia 1400go/256, 1920x1200 WUXGA, 100GB HD, a/b/g wifi, bluetooth, integrated gigabit, DVD+/-RW DL, 2 primary batteries, three chargers including an air/auto/AC univeral, D/View stand with docking station (port replicator including DVI and dual 1920x1200 support), for $1600 (had to upgrade the 100GB HD and 2GB RAM separately, sold the stock stuff), 3 years support - never been on hold more than 3 minutes to a tech with a brain and respectful attitude. That w
  • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:38PM (#15361154) []

    Somebody company will eventually try it.

  • Devil? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:42PM (#15361195)
    I wonder if Satan is wearing a hat with earflaps? []
  • It's about time.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HTMLSpinnr ( 531389 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:43PM (#15361213) Homepage
    Dell's finally seen the light. Given Dell's (past) market share in the server market, this is definately a big win for AMD. Let's hope it's not too late in the game, though.

    One has to wonder, however, will there be any financial reprocussions from Intel after the announcement of this deal? If so, would it only push Dell further into AMD's lap?

    • Re:It's about time.. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Araxen ( 561411 )
      Intel can't really say much. Intel can't afford to lose Dell. They just sell too many computers and they wouldn't never do anything for Dell to totally switch over to AMD. AMD would capture a ton of marketshare if Dell totally dropped Intel.
  • by doormat ( 63648 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:46PM (#15361235) Homepage Journal
    I really think the reason they're finally using AMD chips is that AMD will finally have the manufacturing capacity to supply Dell. Fab36 is delivering revenue now, and will ramp more as the year goes by. Between Fab36 and their relationship with Chartered Semi, they can supply Dell with the chips they need. And since its most likely they'll be 4S (8 core) servers, for ever server dell sells, they'll need 4 chips from AMD.
    • by tjw ( 27390 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:23PM (#15361483) Homepage
      And since its most likely they'll be 4S (8 core) servers, for ever server dell sells, they'll need 4 chips from AMD.
      No doubt this is the reason for the switch. AMD is offering what is basically an 8-way SMP on boards and cpus that don't fall out of line with commodity parts. Hell, Supermicro even has a 4-cpu (8 core) opteron board designed for 1U. Intel's solutions for anything more that 2-way smp still require special, uber-expensive Xeon MP cpus last time I checked and good luck cramming one into 2U or 1U.
      • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:51PM (#15361640) Homepage Journal
        You have that wrong. In order to go more than two-way (two socket) AMD systems, you need to buy Opteron 8xx chips. Those are very expensive, almost as much as Xeon MPs in many cases. The first digit of Opteron numbers note the number of chips that can cooperate at once, 1xx is one socket, 2xx is two socket and 8xx for up to eight.
        • While you're correct that greater-than-two-socket mobos require 8xx Opterons instead of 2xx ones, you're not quite correct with regards to pricing. The price differential for an Opteron 8xx versus a Xeon MP is rather substantial. For example, an Opteron 880 2.4GHz dual core chip is listed on pricewatch for $1,349. A Xeon MP 3.66GHz w/ 1MB of L2 goes for $1,799.00 -- and that's for a single-core part. Doing some quick math, we find that a four-socket setup of 880 Opterons (eight cores total) would cost y
  • Dell has agreed to use Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron chip in multiprocessor servers.

    I'm sure they found the processors... satisfactory.

  • by lazy_arabica ( 750133 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:57PM (#15361308) Homepage
    Am I wrong, or is it not the first time that Dell announces such a move ?
    • Yes, you are wrong. Dell previously announced they were considering using AMD processors, which is widely assumed to have been a tactic in their negotiations with intel at the time.
  • ... when Intel makes them a new offer? I'll believe it when I see the product on the shelf. Or e-shelf.
    • Dell needs Opterons for quad processor servers. Xeons scale extremely poorly thanks to their old fashioned frontside bus architecture. Opterons scale almost linearly thanks to their onboard memory controllers and HyperTransport. And if Dell is going to sell 4P Opteron servers then it's kinda silly not to sell 2P as well. Intel can have the uniprocessor rabble, cheapskates buying Celeron "servers".
  • by griffinme ( 930053 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:59PM (#15361324)
    Satan needs his parka! Apple goes to Intel Dell goes AMD Next thing you know Vista will ship. Someone else mentioned Intel trying to strongarm Dell over this. I highly doubt it since Intel is currently in court over this kind of practice right now.
  • by linzeal ( 197905 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:00PM (#15361339) Homepage Journal
    When we compared the power draw for opterons versus itaniums at the time when such a battle was being contested, the results were pretty bleak for Intel and anyone associated with them. We setup a subsidary company to build custom servers for our project and we saved pry 20,000 dollars in electricity costs over the life of the project. 3 years and 2000 servers. Why is Intel so stupid when it comes to power consumption for server processors? The air conditioning is what gets you when you have 2000 200-300 watt proccessors that is a helluva lot of energy to cool.
    • Intel is getting better WRT power consumption, due to competition from AMD. Depending on who you talk to, Core Duo power consumption is either slightly lower or slightly higher than the dual-core Opteron power consumption (I would name it, if I could remember how AMD's stupid naming scheme worked.)
    • One thing that makes me wonder ... 3 years and 2,000 servers, you save 20,000 dollars. That's 3.5 dollars a year per server.

      Are you entirely sure about those numbers?
      • That was my thought to.

        Assume 100W difference per server, when active, no difference when idle, and active 50% of the time means 50W per server average. 2000 servers = 100KW difference in total draw. Wild guess electricity costs $0.10/KWhr (I'm in a different country and don't get commercial pricing) so that is $10/hr. *24*365 = $88000/yr. I haven't taken into account the airconditioning to get rid of this heat - say electricity plus capital for airconditioning is about half as much aga
    • Don't worry. Their new cpus are down to 65w. Of course the new ram will use up 400w instead of the old 130w.... but it's the cpu that counts, right?
    • we saved pry 20,000 dollars in electricity costs over the life of the project. 3 years and 2000 servers

      20K over 2000 servers over 3 years works out to less than a penny a day. These are negligible savings, if any. Just rearranging the wires in the cabinets a little to improve the airflow could give you such savings.

    • Why is Intel so stupid when it comes to power consumption for server processors?

      Was is the operative word - the stuff coming out this summer is actually pretty decent.

      But to answer your question - Marketing. Somebody in the DotCom era let the Marketing Department take ahold of engineering. MegaHertz, MegaHertz, MegaHertz were all that mattered. So you get the NetBurst strategy, very deep pipelines, awful prediction miss penalties, and 'who cares about power?'.

      So customers like you went elsewhere. In dro
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This means Dell is doomed!

    Or was it Apple? Yes! This means Apple is Doomed!
  • by HiyaPower ( 131263 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:08PM (#15361388)
    Ken Rollins gave a interview on Bloomberg. He equivocated all over the place about using AMD in anything but its high end servers. When pressed on it, he refused to be pinned down. "All we are talking about today" is the phrase. He continued to pump for the Intel chips. "We are very excited about Intel one and two socket" offerings. "All we are really announcing today" is about all they got out of him.
    • by LurkerXXX ( 667952 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @07:00PM (#15361686)
      Probably because they are only going to try to sell a very few AMD servers, and all for PR. I'd lay money that it's from a backroom deal with Intel.

      Last year Dell started selling AMD CPUs. Boxed CPUs. Dell didn't make *ANY* computers those CPU's would fit in, but they offered the CPUs for sale. Why? It's incredably stupid to sell one upgrade component, that will only fit in your competitors machines, but not in your own, isn't it? So why? The only reason I can think of, is so that when Intel goes into court, and AMD tells the judge that Intel is using monopoly leverage on Dell so that Dell only uses Intel CPUs, Intel can say, 'well, Dell actually sells AMD CPU's as well'.

      I can't imagine any other reason for doing that. But a judge will probably see through that quickly, so now we get a new announcement from Dell that they will build *some* AMD based servers. How many? Not many. Only at least 4-way servers. Why only 4-way servers when we the customers have been clamering for AMD for years? Because they can say they use AMD as well, without really touching Intel's market share. This one is all to make Intel look like less of a monopoly to the courts folks. Don't get your hopes up for AMD based Dell medium/small servers or desktops. It ain't gonna happen.
      • Stupid question... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by MoxFulder ( 159829 )
        Why does anybody use Intel CPUs for anything anymore?

        As far as I can tell, AMD CPUs these days are cheaper, more innovative, faster, and more power-efficient than Intel CPUs, in the budget, desktop, and server markets. I won't buy Intel anymore, my last 5 computers have been Athlon 64, Athlon XP, K6-3, K6-2, and Cyrix.

        I'm aware that AMD has sometimes had problems supplying enough volume to customers, but is there any other downside? I mean, at work we have all these ugly-as-sin black Dell minitowers in te
      • Why does anybody use Intel CPUs for anything anymore?

        As far as I can tell, AMD CPUs these days are cheaper, more innovative, faster, and more power-efficient than Intel CPUs, in the budget, desktop, and server markets. I won't buy Intel anymore, my last 5 computers have been Athlon 64, Athlon XP, K6-3, K6-2, and Cyrix.

        I'm aware that AMD has sometimes had problems supplying enough volume to customers, but is there any other downside? I mean, at work we have all these ugly-as-sin black Dell minitowers in te
        • Dell is great for small businesses who have a moderate amount of technical prowess but who want a warranty. i.e. Me

          With Dell, I can go and configure the server or workstation and get *exactly* what I want. I don't have to flip for hours through IBM or HP/Compaq websites trying to find a configuration that meets my needs. (Some companies have gotten better, but we've had good reliable hardware from Dell and have no reason to switch.)

          In addition, their configuration page shows me exactly how much I'll
      • Doubt its a backroom deal. I built a 16 processor (8 dual core) box with 16GB of memory for around 20K. It blows the doors off of anything Dell sells and I did it from ordering all the parts from a local merchant,, right down the road. When I picked up the 16 CPU Tyan system, booted CentOS 4.3 without any hassle (except I needed to boot with mem=1024M until I got the net kernel) (CentOS is Binary & ABI and even Kernel module compatible rebuild of RedHat Enterprise Linux 4 Update 3, everyo
  • Circle (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:09PM (#15361394)
    Wait a sec..
    Apple switches from PowerPC to Intel
    Dell switches from Intel to AMD

    Now all that's needed is for slashdotters to switch from AMD to PowerPC and the circle is closed!
  • AMD Comment (Score:5, Informative)

    by HiyaPower ( 131263 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:16PM (#15361439)
    AMD Issues Statement on Dell Decision to Offer Customers a
    2006-05-18 16:36 (New York)


    SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 18, 2006
    AMD (NYSE:AMD) released the following statement today
    regarding the announcement Dell Inc. made in its quarterly earnings
    statement that it intends to offer AMD Opteron(TM) Dual Core
    processor-based servers.
          "We welcome Dell, and Dell customers, to the world of AMD64," said
    Marty Seyer, AMD senior vice president, Commercial Business. "Dell is
    a customer-focused company and we're pleased to see that they are
    listening to their customers and providing them the choice of
    innovative AMD products. We look forward to working closely with Dell
    and bringing the benefits of AMD's leading performance-per-watt
    solutions to Dell's customers.
  • ... to check if this is not another "Microsoft buys Linux" article but since today is not April 1st I guess I just don't give a crap. BTW Dell is very close to anonymous in Romania where IBM, HP, Fujitsu & DIY servers rule almost 100% of the market.
  • They were too good for AMD while they were on their way up and living the good life, now at the first sign of trouble and as people are starting to lose interest they embrace it. They are not offering AMD becasue they want to but becasue they feel they have no other choice. I wonder if this "me too" sentiment is going to extend to their AMD line of servers? This was the right move at the wrong time
  • by 9mm Censor ( 705379 ) * on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:23PM (#15361478) Homepage
    to host Duke Nukem Forever DM severs!
  • by the_olo ( 160789 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:26PM (#15361500) Homepage
    You can test it by yourself:

    1) Go to []
    2) Search for "Pacifica" (their upcoming enterprise technology for virtualization)
    3) Click on the first link that their search engine returns ("AMD's Virtualization Solutions - Optimizing Enterprise Services")

    You get a HTTP 404 error. It has been like this for two months now! What an embarrasment for their marketing dept...

    And there's no mention of the estimated launch date of Pacifica processors anywhere on their site (or it's simply too hard to find). People are trying to make spending plans here and one can't get reliable information from AMD about one of its most important enterprise technologies planned for release this year!

    They just look amateurish. Sad to say that, since they still have technological advantage over Intel and taking care of good marketing would seem to be a matter of some very simple steps.
    • I have to agree. Pacifica is crucial to AMD. Apparently far more crucial than they realize. Their recent success has been almost entirely based on server platforms. If Intel gets fast, low power Vanderpool processors out while AMD keeps the market waiting till 2007 for Pacifica their gains in the server market will simply vanish.

      Nearly every server I purchase is intended to run multiple VMs from day one. It's understood; most services don't justify the exclusive resources (cost, space, heat, power, etc
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:40PM (#15361586) Homepage Journal
    and use them to crack the Human-Chimp Hybrid Genome from bone marrow from our monkey-loving human ancestors six million years ago!

    Say, that chimp's looking awful nice there ... woah, mind back to my work ...
  • by this great guy ( 922511 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:43PM (#15361600)
    Somewhere in Wall Street: "BUY AMD ! BUY AMD !"
  • by this great guy ( 922511 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:53PM (#15361650)
    For your information, /. readers, AMD predicted a few months ago (google "amd 4p server share") that they target 50% of the 4-way server market share at some point in 2006. So if Dell had decided to stick with Intel it would have meant that they would have restricted themselves to less than 50% of this market. Dell have really been stupid to wait so long to sell AMD servers, they have already lost a lot of money because of this (current headline on in bold font: "Dell profit falls 18%").
  • Can I have a 4 or 8 core Opteron Mac, pppplease?

    I know places like Penguin Computing will sell me a 4 core Opteron workstation for $2500, but make it shiny and Macish and I'll happily pay $3000.

    I am a mac fanboy.

    Now back to agonizing over whether the wimpy graphics in the MacBook might actually be tolerable for the system which is otherwise a great deal. Oi!
  • According to CNET [], this is all just empty hype. Dell is only using AMD for "four-way servers", of which they sell only a few per quarter, and for recently-purchased Alienware. For everything else, they are sticking with straight Intel.
  • I bought a tyan thunder k8we board about a year ago, dropped in two high efficiency 246's, 3G RAM and installed gentoo and have been loving it ever since. Best computer I've ever had, bar none. Fast for development, fast for services, fast for games. I never bog it down, even with 6 or 7 active tasks going. The hypertransport is great. There's quite a bit of an upgrade path, too... with the new dual core opterons reaching 2.6GHz/core or 10.2GHz in a 2 way smp box. Yow. Not exactly cheap for those pro
  • And this time it won't be massively overpriced and underperforming! Oh wait, a Dell? Hold on.... let me see which of the thousands of competitors is offering a cheaper amd64 option that will run circles around you. Seriously, I haven't recommended buying a Dell EVER, and so far I've never been proven wrong.

    The fact that they are THIS LATE to the game on AMD, and that this is the ONLY AMD OPTION they are selling just goes to show you that they are no longer the market leader, and probably never will be ag
  • by WoTG ( 610710 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:56PM (#15363144) Homepage Journal
    There's a lot of chatter in this thread about this being little more than a PR stunt with limited sales value to AMD. At face value, this is true; however, consider the bigger picture. This news validates AMD's product -- Dell saying that a product is good is much better for AMD than Dell saying that "there's no demand" as was the case not that long ago. Remember, Dell is using this for their most expensive servers -- that's nothing to sneeze at. Heck, the profit for AMD for 4x800 series Opterons is the probably close to the profit that Intel gets from 100 Celerons. AMD probably has a gross margin of close to $1000 on those 800 series Opterons, versus maybe $20-50 for the Celerons.

    Dell's not announcing anything lower than the four cpu servers, but given the situation, Dell has no choice but to take baby steps. We're talking about huge volumes of chips in Dell's mainstream lines, so a little caution is reasonable! Nevertheless, now that Dell uses AMD chips, the next guessing game becomes "How long until their customers force Dell to get AMD 2-way servers (or maybe 64bit laptops)?". I'm thinking less than a year. They've already taken the hardest step of ditching the exclusivity with Intel. There's no real reason to hold back now.
  • I smell scam. Dell says AMD 4-way servers before 12/31/2006. While 4-way makes sense given Intel's horrible front-side bus bottleneck for anything over 2-way Xeon's, well before the end of the year Intel will be shipping Merom Core 2 Duo processors with the same front-side bus problem, but much improved performance otherwise. Just because Dell may list an AMD server doesn't mean they'll make it avaiable before Intel is competative again, nor will they make it necessairly easy to buy. And if you don't th
  • by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <> on Friday May 19, 2006 @01:44AM (#15363511) Journal
    Back in '99, AMD chips were found on laptops and whatnot, but they never really took off. They marketed their chips as a "value-priced" alternative to Intel (bullet train commercials mentioned "As fast as intel but cheaper"). Fast forward to today, where AMD abandoned their value brand (Duron, which they recently replaced with Sempron) and invented a new brand for their flagship chip (Opteron). AMD has gone from trying to compete in the Kia/Hyundai marketplace to competing in the Toyota/Lexus one -- rather than price being their selling point, they're focusing on quality (which, to be fair, they've had for quite a while. Again, this is just marketing.)

    People bemoan the lack of AMD in the server/laptop Dell space but consider what this looks like to anyone buying from Dell: "You can either buy these cheap but 'good enough' Intel servers, or you can upgrade and buy this premium AMD box". In the end, people prefer switching to a "higher quality" brand rather than a "price aware" brand: isn't it hard to defend taking anyone to McDonald's when there's a much better but slightly more expensive restaurant next door?

"An entire fraternity of strapping Wall-Street-bound youth. Hell - this is going to be a blood bath!" -- Post Bros. Comics