Gateway is joining the growing ranks of systems makers that use Advanced Micro Devices Opteron chip in some of their servers.
At the VMworld 2006 show in Los Angeles Nov. 7, Gateway officials are announcing three new systems powered by AMDs dual-core processors and are claiming that they have plans to create an entire line of servers running on Opteron. Gateway already has a full portfolio of Intel-based servers.
Using Opteron is something Gateway officials have been planning for about a year, Tim Diefenthaler, senior director of product marketing at Gateway, said in an interview before the VMware showed kicked off.
A combination of supply chain issues with Intel and growing customer demand for Opteron-based systems convinced the Irvine, Calif., company that offering AMD-powered systems makes good business sense, Diefenthaler said.
At the Intel Developer Forum Sept. 28, Gateway unveiled three new Intel-based servers running on the chip makers new dual-core "Woodcrest" Xeon 5100 processors and 5000P chip set, kicking off what officials said be an aggressive push in the server space. The new Opteron systems are the next step and a complement to the Intel product line.
The new rack systems are the two-socket 1U (1.75-inch) E-9422R and 2U (3.5-inch) E-9522R, and the four-socket 3U (5.25-inch) E-9722R. Each server also can be equipped with the Opteron HE chips, which are designed for better power efficiency.
"Part of the strategy [around using Opteron] was as a way of differentiating from Dell," Diefenthaler said.
That part of the plan went out the door when Dell, long the lone holdout among top-tier OEMs to using AMD technology in favor of an Intel-only strategy, announced in May that it was planning to bring out AMD-based PCs and servers this year.
Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, on Oct. 23 launched its own Opteron servers, the four-socket PowerEdge 6950 and the two-socket SC1435.
However, Diefenthaler said that there are other features in the new servers that will help separate Gateways products from those of Dell, a competitor in Gateways target markets of midsize business, government and education.
Among those features is the Gateway Lights Out system management capability, which enables users to remotely shut down or restart their systems via a Web browser and Web-based dashboard.
Other features include integrated RAID; an optional remote control keyboard, video and mouse product; support of both serial-attached SCSI and Serial ATA II hard drives in the same system; and enhanced I/O capabilities.
"Were still differentiated from Dell," Diefenthaler said. "Weve attacked our competitors in the [two-socket space], and weve got the best four-way on the market."
Many of those in Gateways target customer markets are ready for Opteron systems, particularly because of the price/performance and the energy efficiency advantages the AMD chips have had over their Intel counterparts over the past couple of years, he said.
"Since the second quarter last year, weve really heard [from customers] about power and heat [concerns in the data center]," Diefenthaler said. Opteron has addressed those issues since it was introduced in 2003, but "Intels done a good job responding with Woodcrest," Diefenthaler said.
Gateway has been making a concentrated effort to enhance its professional business, both in the server and storage spaces, since Ed Coleman took over as CEO in September.
Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said adopting AMD technology was a good move by Gateway as it tries to carve out a larger piece of the highly competitive x86 server space. Potential customers should see the move as an indication of Gateways intention of expanding its portfolio.
"They couldnt be much smaller," said Enderle, in San Jose, Calif. "This goes quite a bit in giving them a more robust line [of servers]."
The two dual-socket systems will be available in December, and the four-way E-9722R will be available in January.