Dell to Finally Serve Up AMD Option

By David Needle (Send Email)
Posted May 19, 2006


Dell announced that it will use AMD chips in its high-end servers. The news, which came in the company's quarterly earnings statement yesterday, marks the first time Dell will use AMD chips. The vendor will break from its all-Intel past and ship AMD-based multi-processor servers by the end of the year.

Dell is hardly backing away from its long-time partner and CPU provider Intel. In its statement, Dell announced it plans to use AMD's Opteron processor in certain multi-processor servers due out by the end of this year. The news was buried in the earning statement and followed a statement of Dell's plans to launch its ninth generation servers featuring Intel's forthcoming Woodcrest microprocessors.

Direct seller Dell prides itself on being able to bring new technology to market quickly, so the news that AMD's entry would take so long surprised analysts.

"That's a long introduction cycle for a server product, and I expected a higher volume part," Gordon Haff, principal IT advisor at Illuminata, said. "Obviously it's great news for AMD, but it doesn't indicate to me a wholesale shift or even a mix of processor choices like HP has done."

Dell's CEO Kevin Rollins acknowledged in a conference call with analysts that there's been a lot of questions as to when the company might add AMD. "You guys are always asking us what we'll be using." He added that AMD's Opteron has had "clear acceptance" in the marketplace. "AMD's been very successful, so we're using it."

That success has been enjoyed by Dell competitors like HP and Sun, both of which questioned what took the Round Rock, TX computer so long to adopt AMD product.

Dell's announcement "validates that to be successful you have to add AMD, given the difference in the roadmaps [versus Intel]," Graham Lovell, Sun's senior director of x64 servers, told internetnews.com. "I think Dell sees a problem in the enterprise space with multiprocessing where Sun has been strong and making gains over Dell in the multiprocessor server area, particularly in technical markets."

HP has a broad range of systems that use both Intel and AMD processors and is the leading seller of Opteron-based servers. In a statement e-mailed to internetnews.com the company said Dell's move was "an acknowledgment of the strengths of HP’s business model."

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT Research, said the Dell move is another indication of AMD's growing acceptance.

"When AMD shipped its first 64-bit processor, the majority opinion at the time was that once Intel got up to speed it would plow AMD under as it had every other time," said King. "That has not been the case with Opteron."

AMD has publicly announced it plans to release a new version of its Opteron server in the second half of this year which is likely to be what Dell is planning to use. Dell actually started as an AMD customer a few months ago when it bought Alienware, a supplier of high end PC video gaming systems which uses AMD processors.

Article originally appeared on Internetnews.com.

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