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Hardware Today: The Server Processor Market, Have It Your Way
Late last week, Intel, with much fanfare, announced its researchers created the "World's Fastest Silicon Photonics Device," which encodes data into beams of light. While this certainly has the potential to revolutionize computing in the long term, another recent development in the server market is having a more immediate impact: servers that span both 32- and 64-bit angles without software emulation. This week, Hardware Today casts a close eye on what's driving your servers. We take a look at the server processor market with an emphasis on what AMD, IBM, Intel, and Sun are up to, as well as where they stand in the current marketplace hierarchy.
Literally minutes before this column went to press, Intel unveiled plans to offer 64-bit functionality in its 32-bit Xeon chips beginning in the second quarter of this year. This brings Intel head to head with AMD, which in recent weeks seemed to be garnering win after win in the newly created 32/64-bit space.
According to Peter Glaskowsky, principal analyst for In-Stat/MDR, the four processor vendors with the most server sales (once "legacy" systems are filtered out) are, in alphabetical order: AMD (Opteron), IBM (Power, PowerPC), Intel (Xeon, Itanium), and Sun Microsystems (SPARC). This article will highlight the recent developments in each of these vendors' strategies.
The following chart offers a 10,000-foot overview of processor choices available from these vendors.
|Intel||Xeon||32-bit||x86||1 to 2||3.07 GHz||533 MHz||Dual processor, market standard|
|Xeon MP||32-bit||x86||1 to 8||2.0 GHz||400 MHz||Multiprocessor, market standard|
|Itanium 2||64-bit||x86||1-128+||1.50 GHz||400 MHz||VLIW, 64-bit OSes only; 32-bit x86 applications run by IA-32 Execution Layer software emulation only, aimed at high end; complex 32-bit OS migration path (compared to Opteron) but much more scalable|
|AMD||Opteron||32/64-bit||x86||1 to 8||2.2 GHz||800 MHz||Currently the most popular 32/64-bit-architecure, with deployments continuing to grow|
||UltraSPARC IIIi||64-bit||SPARC||1 to 4||1.28 GHz||200 MHz||Less-scalable, less-expensive version of the SPARC III design|
|UltraSPARC III||64-bit||SPARC||1 to 106||1.2 GHz||150 MHz||Sun's most widely deployed SPARC server|
|UltraSPARC IV||64-bit||SPARC||1 to 72||1.2 GHz||150 MHz||Just released (2/10); executes threads in
parallel; so can run 144
threads in 72 processor system, better than SPARC IV. |
|IBM||POWER 970||64-bit/32-bit||POWER||1 to 2||2.0 GHz||1.0 GHz||Runs in Apple's G5, and IBM's iSeries and pSeries servers
|POWER 970 FX||64-bit/32-bit||POWER||1 to 2||2.0 GHz +||1.1 GHz||Unreleased as of press time, but turning heads based on design and performance|