AMD Aims Enterprise Chips at Cloud, Virtualization

The trend toward cloud computing and virtualization dovetails with AMD's enterprise computing strategies, according to an executive.

NEW YORK-Enterprise computing increasingly will hinge on cloud computing and virtualization, and Advanced Micro Devices' server chip road map dovetails nicely with that trend, according to a company executive.

In a recent interview with eWEEK here, Vlad Rozanovich, director of North America commercial business for AMD, noted the various trends-mobile computing and social networking, increasing amounts of data, the consumerization of IT, and enterprises' need to get more done with fewer resources-that are playing to the demand for cloud and virtualization, which promise lower costs, higher utilization and better management.

There's also that issue that while half of the world's population currently has no access to Internet-connected devices, the gap is being bridged, which will only add to the data being generated out there.

That data will need to be handled-moved, stored, backed up-by fast, efficient and powerful servers, Rozanovich said. "All that content still needs to be created and distributed," he said.

And it's in this environment that AMD-with its Fusion initiative and straight-through computing strategy, as well as its mix of GPUs (graphics processing units) and CPUs-expects to flourish, both in servers and enterprise PCs, Rozanovich said. AMD's Fusion APUs (accelerated processing units) feature the CPU and GPU on the same piece of silicon. The company introduced itsfirst Fusion chips during the Consumer Electronics Show in January, with those APUs aimed at desktop and notebook PCs.

With the growing amount of online video content being produced-via such technology as video conferencing and video downloads-having chips with compute and discrete-level graphics, including DirectX 11 capabilities, improves the overall user experience, he said. That DX 11 support is also a key difference between AMD's "Brazos" chips and rival Intel's "Sandy Bridge" offerings, which also include the CPU and GPU on the same die but don't offer DX 11 support.

When talking about notebooks these days, it's impossible to avoid the issue of tablets. Intel executives say the company will be aggressive in the burgeoning tablet market through its Atom platform, with Intel-powered tablets hitting the market later this year. AMD is taking a more measured approach, particularly in the commercial space. Rozanovich, pointing to numbers from market research firm Gartner, noted that by 2015, less than 10 percent of commercial PCs will be using a touch interface, such as those found on tablets.

"It's a market that's taken off in the last year, but when you look at commercial and enterprise customers, will they really use it?" he said. Users in an enterprise setting "are still going to need the notebook type of form factor."