AMD Changes Little to Keep Cash-Strapped Customers
"We have kept a very consistent architecture when it comes to our fifth generation of products," said Burke Banda, an AMD marketing manager for the Server and Workstation division. "This is our second-generation, quad-core product and we have kept the same socket and worked with the same technology partners. The feedback we are getting from our customers is that it's a time to be risk-averse and it's a time to look at technologies they are familiar with, and while they want to move their business forward, they want to have familiar products." This is also a strategy AMD is using to try to point out that Intel's upcoming line of processors, based on the "Nehalem" microarchitecture, will require new systems and IT departments will have to invest in learning about the new Intel architecture. This week, Intel has been making news with its first Nehalem chip, called the Intel Core i7, which is scheduled for release on Nov. 17."We have a lot of customers in the rendering space and media and the entertainment space, and those guys are extremely tied to memory bandwidth and I/O," Holden said. "So any improvements that can be made to I/O and memory bandwidth help a render farm exponentially, so that's been an area we have focused on." George Reitz, a vice president at Rackable Systems, said the small die size of Shanghai helps to make the motherboards smaller and allows the company to pack more boards onto servers, which allows for denser servers and ultimately a denser data center. "We are looking at getting up to 240 processors and getting many, many cores within the same rack and having some very interesting power profiles," Reitz said. The panel members and Banda agreed that the financial crisis on Wall Street and the credit crunch in the United States could have a significant impact on their businesses, especially for those that sell systems to financial services. Holden, the Verari representative, did note that many of his company's customers were still interested in investing in R&D now in order to be ready for when the crisis ends and the business atmosphere in the United States rebounds. The first systems based on Shanghai are not expected until later in December. So far, AMD has not announced support from larger vendors such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM or Sun Microsystems.
When it comes to Shanghai, several of the vendors noted that the processor offers better energy efficiency and ability to handle virtual machine workloads than previous generations of AMD Opteron processors. Ed Holden, a manager of server products for Verari Systems, said his company was interested in building Shanghai-based systems for several specific areas, including Web 2.0, financial services, and video and media content creation.