Sans any official word from Oracle, the sun has seemingly set on the use of AMD Opteron processors in the company's Sun Servers. Even though Oracle won't comment on the issue, word has been circulating since spring, when I posted Oracle Seen Axing AMD Opteron On Sun Servers. Recently, I received an e-mail from an Oracle customer, which seems to provide corroboration that AMD is done on Sun.I should note for the record that when I spoke with Oracle server chief John Fowler in April, he said the company continues to consider both Intel and AMD processors.
Nevertheless, AMD's Oracle prospects starting looking bleak in May, when Australian IT Gary Burgess wrote that he'd attended a local Oracle event, where he learned that "It appears that the company may focus on Sun x86 servers using only the Intel processor architecture."
(FYI, Sun Servers is the product-line name by which Oracle refers to the machines it acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems.)
My subsequent attempts to get amplification from the stateside Oracle folks haven't been answered. So my virtual ears pricked up the other day when I received an email from a sysadmin who's an Oracle customer. Here's what he wrote:
"Since all non-Netra AMD blades have been EOL'ed [end of lifed--editor] and no new AMD blades have been announced or mentioned at Oracle World, it sure seems evident that AMD is no longer an option.
It really puts my company over a barrel. We standardized on, and made a significant investment in, VMware and AMD processors in the Sun 6000 blade chassis. It forces our hand to purchase AMD-based blades elsewhere. Can't live migrate between AMD and Intel. What a shame. We can't wait for what may or may not transpire."
In careful journalistic fashion (what we used to do before the Internet destroyed everything), I have to add that one user e-mail does not confirmation provide. However, a dispassionate observer might infer that something's clearly happening here.
My e-mailer certainly appears correct about the end-of-lifing. For example, if you go here, to Oracle's product page for its Sun Fire X4600 server, a system which supports up to 32 Opteron processor cores, you see this message: "This product has reached the end of its life and is no longer orderable."
So if AMD is out, the question is, why? True, Intel's latest Xeons have pretty much closed any real or perceived performance gaps which existed for a long time between Intel and AMD. Perhaps Oracle wants to pare down its focus to AMD and Sun's homegrown Sparc.
Perhaps it's the fact that, as my InformationWeek Analytics research report, State Of Server Technology 2010 found, while there are many people who will buy either AMD or Intel, or Intel only, there are few who demand AMD only.
On the other hand, Xeon and Opteron now each have their adherents, and both have places where they are appropriate and even incrementally better for an application, when take into account the whole ball of wax, including cost, power consumption, number of sockets, and benchmarks. So in that sense, it's mystifying decision, particularly since Oracle has the engineering resources to support both processor lines.
One would also think that Fowler would like to at least be able to play around, engineering-wise, with HyperTransport--the channel used in Opteron--as part of the latency-busting system designs he's been pioneering.
On the business front, there is also the installed base to consider, as the e-mail from my admin reader makes clear.
What's your take? Leave a comment below or e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.