To date, Broadcom Corp.s ServerWorks has focused exclusively on Intel Corp.s Xeon family, competing with Intel in the enterprise chipset market. Now, the chipset maker says it will ship versions of its chipsets for the Opteron this fall.
In making the announcement, ServerWorks executives called Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s Opteron "an industry-standard platform," yet another boost for the still-growing Opteron family.
The chipset maker has proven to be an important component in the server market infrastructure. For a time, the ServerWorks division was the exclusive provider of four-way chipsets, when Intel couldnt make the design work for its own chips.
Because of design constraints, ServerWorks will most likely design a sort of core chipset platform for both the Opteron and Xeon, reusing common functions such as I/O and networking, according to Gary Thomas, vice president and general manager of Broadcoms ServerWorks division in Irvine, Calif.
ServerWorks ships chipsets that support one, two and four Xeon processors, part of the companys "Grand Champion" product line. Features include support for DDR200 memory, error correction and "chipkill"—the ability to recover from an error that would affect an entire DRAM chip within a memory module.
High-end server manufacturers that design systems based on 16 or more processors generally design and manufacture their own chipsets for their own products.
"I think the strategy here is to support all the industry-standard platforms," Thomas said. "AMDs CPU line has emerged as an extremely strong performer with the AMD64 line," he said, adding that customers have come to Broadcom asking it to support the architecture.
Analysts have suspected that Broadcoms ServerWorks had planned to support the Opteron earlier but that contractual agreements with Intel had prevented it from doing so.
Licensing agreements with Intel created "IP firewalls," William J. Ruehle, vice president and chief financial officer at Broadcom, said in a 2003 interview.
He said that while Broadcom was committed to protecting the IP rights of Intel, the company was exploring areas where those IP firewalls were not in effect.
ServerWorks first-generation parts will cover products supporting one to four Opteron processors, Thomas said. ServerWorks will continue to sell its chipsets directly to OEMs, he said.