Dell on Monday finally broke with its long-standing Intel-only policy by introducing its first Opteron-based systems, years after its major competitors began offering customers the choice of servers using processors from either Intel or Advanced Micro Devices.
Dell was puzzlingly slow to partner with AMD, sticking solely with Intel as its processors were passed in raw performance and performance-per-watt by AMD. But since Dell announced in May that it would begin supporting AMD in its computer line, Intel has made significant strides in completing an overhaul of its processor portfolio to regain parity with AMD, or potentially a performance lead.
Dell will continue to offer Intel-based systems, but executives made it clear that the company is now convinced that AMD's Opteron offers the leading performance for certain server segments.
"AMD certainly has compelling products in the market across the board from an architectural standpoint and from a price and power standpoint," says Jay Parker, director of worldwide enterprise marketing for Dell. "It is very application-, workload-, and customer-driven, but in general we expect to see performance gains [with Opteron processors] across almost all configurations."
Dell is introducing the four-socket PowerEdge 6950 and the two-socket, high-density PowerEdge SC1435, which will be replacing Intel systems currently in those market segments. A month ago Dell began offering its first desktop PCs using AMD processors.
The new AMD-based systems come as Dell has reported a string of unimpressive quarters financially and seen its ranking among leading computer vendors dwindle. Hewlett-Packard inched by Dell to become the largest provider of PCs in the world in the third quarter. In the second quarter, Sun Microsystems passed Dell to move into third place in worldwide server revenue.
The PowerEdge 6950 and SC1435 are available now, priced at $6,499 and $1,299, respectively.