OEMs and software makers on Monday continued to climb aboard Intel Corp.s Madison bandwagon, while chip-making rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. rolled out new versions of its 64-bit Opteron chip.
Red Hat Inc. on Monday announced that availability of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system optimized for Intels new generation of its Itanium 2 processor, formally known as Itanium 2 6M, which Intel rolled out on Monday. Red Hat, of Raleigh, N.C., said both versions of its Enterprise Linux platform—AS, for data center and mission-critical servers, and WS, for technical workstations—support Madison.
Red Hat officials say the new chip can improve performance on its Linux platform by as much as 33 percent.
At the same time, server makers continue to join the ranks of Itanium 2 6M users. IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Computer Corp. and Unisys Corp. all have announced systems powered by the new chip.
SGI on Monday announced a slew of high-performance computing customers for the Altix 3000 systems armed with the Madison chip. The systems use either the 1.3GHz chip with 3MB of Level 3 cache, or the 1.5GHz version with 6MB of L3 cache, according to the Mountain View, Calif., company.
HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., is rolling out Madison-based systems in its new consolidated server line, called Integrity. John Miller, director of marketing for HPs business systems unit, said the Integrity line enables companies to streamline their operations and protect their investment because it enables enterprises to deploy one server with a Linux partition, a Windows partition and an HP-UX partition.
Before “today, you [couldnt] do Linux and Windows consolidation if you only had an 8-way server,” Miller said. “There was not a significant return-on-investment/total-cost-of-ownership savings. Plus, Unix hasnt been deployed on the front end of many data centers … so enterprises couldnt consolidate their front-end on Unix.”
Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, is offering its PowerEdge 3250 system with Madison, and Unisys, of Blue Bell, Pa., is unveiling its ES700/400, with up to 32 Itanium 2 6M chips. IBM announced the eServer x450 with four Itanium 2 6M chips, as well as the x445, which uses Intels newest 32-bit Xeon MP chip, codenamed Gallantin, which also was announced on Monday. The big thing about IBMs new Madison- and Gallatin-based systems is their ability to accept additional memory on the fly. This is possible in part because of the enhanced EXA chipset that IBM included in the systems, said officials with the Armonk, N.Y., company.
Despite his enthusiasm for Madison, Deepack Advani, vice president of IBMs eServer xSeries, said his company expects to see more server consolidation activity on its Gallatin servers.
“We [dont see] Itanium taking over the 32-bit world,” Advani said. “The majority of the opportunity is in the 32-bit space. The Itanium ecosystem continues to evolve—the [64-bit Windows] OS just came out a few weeks ago, applications are coming online. [But] without the software stack the hardware is not that interesting.”
Enterprises “are not going to change their binaries,” to run 32-bit applications on 64-bit chips, Advani said. “We feel the 32-bit large SMP server is a better consolidation platform because the applications [enterprises] want to consolidate are 32-bit.”
IBM does see a place for 64-bit computing. It is working with SAP AG, SAS Institute Inc. and its own IBM software group to optimize database and business intelligence applications and middleware to run on Madison, Advani said.
“Our focus with Itanium is to have tuned apps over time,” he said. “The applications that will take advantage of Itanium are databases and business intelligence that require access to a lot of data in memory.”
Included in Madison is a 32-bit emulation layer that will enable businesses to consolidate 32-bit applications onto the chip. This compatibility with 32-bit computing has been a key point pushed by AMD for its Opteron chip, which officials there say allows for easy migration to 64-bit computing.
AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., on Monday expanded its Opteron offerings to include chips for one-way and eight-way systems. When it introduced Opteron in April, AMD rolled out the 200 Series for two-way systems. The 800 Series is aimed at four- to eight-way servers, while the 100 Series it targeted at one-way systems and work stations.
The 800 chips are available in three models: the 840, 842 and 844, with pricing ranging from $749 to $2,149 per 1,000 unit quantities. Similarly, the 100 processors are in three models, the 140, 142 and 144, with pricing starting at $229 and going as high as $438.
The new 100 and 800 series fills out the Opteron line, although AMD will continue to enhance the chips, said Ben Williams, director of the companys server/workstation business segment. Williams also said that a key advantage to the Opteron family is that the same chip sets can be used with all processors.
“The simplicity that Opteron brings to market to 64-bit computing is key,” he said.
AMD on Monday also announced its Validated Server Program, an initiative with Celestica Inc., a Toronto-based company that is offering two servers—a 1U two-way rack server A2210 based on the 200 Series, and the 4U four-way A8440 based on the 800 Series—that systems builders can use in their portfolios of products. They also come with wide-ranging support, Williams said.
He said the program was a way of offering products that were not yet being built by AMDs partners.