AMD Pushes for Greater Enterprise Share

The chip manufacturer is looking to use its AMD64 technology to drive adoption of such form factors as blade servers and client-side devices.

AUSTIN, Texas—Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is looking to use its AMD64 technology to drive adoption of such form factors as blade servers and client-side devices.

Officials at the AMD offices here said this push is a key part of their plans as they roll into 2006. They are comfortable with their technology and the roadmaps for their products, including new Opteron and Athlon64 chips rolling out next year with such features as virtualization, greater security and DDR2 memory support.

A priority in the new year will be to drive adoption of the AMD products deeper into the enterprise and the SMB (small and midsize businesses) spaces, and a key to that will be expanding the reach of the processors.

AMD is focusing not only on the server space, but also the commercial client space, though a program codenamed "Raiden," said Marty Seyer, general manager for commercial business and performance computing.

The combination of hardware-based virtualization and greater security—in programs codenamed "Pacifica" and "Presidio," respectively—is reviving interest in server-based computing, including thin clients and their newer counterparts, PC blades, Seyer said in an interview with eWEEK.

In addition, AMDs HyperTransport technology—a high-speed chip-to-chip interconnect—is creating more flexibility in the design of mobile devices, particularly notebooks—a key target of the chip makers "client computing reinvention" program.

The program, Raiden, is looking at different ways systems makers and end users can use the benefits of AMDs technology—including the 64-bit computing, dual cores and low power consumption—to improve the client computing environment. AMDs program is focusing on four or five areas, and the industry should start seeing the results of the program beginning next year.

"Everyone sees virtualization and security [features in processors] as solving some of the problems that theyve had," Seyer said.

The commercial client space is a key one for AMD, he said. Between 30 and 40 percent of sales of desktops with AMD chips are on the commercial side, he said.

The IT world has been attracted to the benefits of server-based computing for years. Housing the key components and data on a centralized server promises greater security and manageability.

Thin clients were among the first on the scene, but poor performance and high implementation costs conspired to slow their adoption. In recent years, PC blades have appeared, through companies such as ClearCube Technology Inc. and, more recently, Hewlett-Packard Co.

Server-based computing is continuing to see an upswing of interest, fueled in large part by virtualization technology and the capability of streaming operating systems and applications to client devices.

For example, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., is teaming with such vendors as VMware Inc., ClearCube and Citrix Systems Inc. in creating its Virtualized Hosted Client Infrastructure, based on its BladeCenter systems and other server lines. In addition, The company is working with thin client vendors such as Neoware Systems Inc. and Wyse Technology Inc.

AMD, headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., also is looking at new form factors for notebooks that can take advantage of the HyperTransport I/O. Seyer declined to get into the specifics of the possible designs, but said he expected such new form factors to appear in about two years.

/zimages/4/28571.gifIntel and AMD are working to deliver quad-core processors. Click here to read more.

AMD also expects in 2006 to double the number of blade servers running Opteron. Currently several OEMs—including top-tier vendors such as IBM and HP, as well as second-tier systems makers, including Appro International Inc. and Rackable Systems Inc. —offer blade systems powered by Opteron processors. Fujitsu Computer Systems Corp.s Primergy BX630 blade can create a four-way system from two dual-processor blades via HyperTransport. AMD expects that trend will increase as the virtualization, security and memory features are added to Opteron.

AMD officials said such new features, as well as the rollout of HyperTransport 3.0—which will offer more links for servers to tie into—are key factors in enabling them to maintain what they say is a technological edge over rival Intel Corp. throughout next year.

However, Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., also is lining up new features for its dual-core offerings, including its Intel Virtualization Technology and "LaGrande" security offerings.

AMD has gained market share in the server space in recent quarters. According to Mercury Research Inc., the company saw shipments rise from 16.2 percent in the second quarter to 17.8 in the third. According to the same survey, Intel saw its share drop from 82.3 percent to 80.8 percent.

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