Business/E-Business
Commentary
10/29/2008
01:20 PM
Lamont Wood
Lamont Wood
Commentary
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AMD Setting Out To "Shanghai" The Server Market

As Intel's chief competitor in the SMB server processor market, AMD lost ground when its latest generation of quad-core Opteron processors, code-named Barcelona, appeared later than planned last year. AMD is rushing to make up lost ground this year with its next quad-core Opteron generation, code-named Shanghai.

As Intel's chief competitor in the SMB server processor market, AMD lost ground when its latest generation of quad-core Opteron processors, code-named Barcelona, appeared later than planned last year. AMD is rushing to make up lost ground this year with its next quad-core Opteron generation, code-named Shanghai.The new Shanghai technology (which includes larger caches, cache RAM made with no resistors, and a high-speed on-chip communications bus) is reported to offer about 35 percent more performance, while consuming about 35 percent less power.

The first Shanghai chip will be a 75-watt processor for mainstream servers and is supposed to be available by the end of the year. A 55-watt processor is expected in 1Q09 for blades and large clusters, as well as a 105-watt processor for high-end servers.

Since Barcelona and Shanghai use the same sockets, in-place upgrades with a bios change will also be possible.

After that, more Opteron chips for servers with more geographic code names are expected. (Intel also uses geographic code names for processors, but its code names are rooted in the Pacific Northwest.) Later in 2009, AMD plans to release Istanbul, with six cores and other enhancements. Coming in 2010 will be six-core Sao Paolo and 12-core Magny Cours, both in a new socket that supports DDR3 memory.

Fortune is reporting that server-makers are lining up to use the new chips, and that financial analysts are hailing AMD's return to the fray, so to speak. AMD has apparently put behind it the problems that led to the delays in Barcelona. (One report points the finger at the distraction caused by AMD's acquisition of ATI Technologies in 2006.)

Some kind of turnaround is desperately needed. A $6.6 billion firm, AMD lost nearly $2.5 billion last year, reports Yahoo, and its stock price has fallen nearly 80 percent in the last year. IDC reports that AMD's share of the x86 server market fell from a peak of nearly 26 percent in 2Q06 to half that level13 percentin 1Q08.

Competition is (generally) good, and we need competition in the server processor field. Hopefully, AMD will make us proud.


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