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Nixon Goes To China; Michael Dell Goes To AMD

The two companies are neighbors in Texas, and Dell is now selling servers based on AMD's 64-bit Opteron chip.
In a move reminiscent of Nixon going to China, Dell CEO Michael Dell came to San Francisco and embraced AMD Chairman Hector Ruiz on the stage at Oracle OpenWorld, forgetting those things he used to say about brands that didn't have Intel inside.

Dell is now selling servers based on AMD's 64-bit Opteron chip, and in the shifting alliances of computer makers, old partners can be set aside in favor of new opportunities. "We're both there in Austin," noted Ruiz, citing AMD's chip fabrication facility in Texas. "It's pretty easy for us to work together." Dell's headquarters is in nearby Round Rock, Texas.

Dell responded that AMD servers will be helpful to a cause that his company supports, The Lance Armstrong Foundation in Austin. They will provide the compute power for research to fight cancer, he said.

Dell used the stage of Oracle's annual user conference a few hours later to launch two Opteron-based servers, the two-way PowerEdge SC 1435 blade server and the four-way PowerEdge 6950 server, a powerful machine for running database-type systems. Both will be powered by Opteron chips. Dell will continue to sell the 6950's Intel equivalent, the 6850, powered by a Xeon chip.

Dell said his firm's PowerEdge blades are good for powering Web sites where traffic scales up and down. With about 1 billion people connected to the Internet, "there's still 6 billion to go," said Dell. His firm's AMD and Intel x86 instruction set servers are destined to serve many of them because "we believe the sun is setting over proprietary solutions."

Sun Microsystems has emerged over the last year as a Dell competitor by building AMD Opteron-based servers as well as its in-house UltraSparc servers. Both IBM and HP sold AMD servers before Sun became the third major manufacturer to do so. Dell's stock has tumbled as HP took over the lead in PC shipments.

Dell promised more Opteron-based computers to come over the next 12 months.

Dell also noted that "we're driving Linux further and faster into the enterprise" than in its previous years of existence, but he didn't say what percentage of servers ship with Linux versus Windows. Linux is often used to run the Oracle database system, and Dell said it had sold 120,000 servers to run Oracle.

And Oracle is running its business in part on the 12,000 Dell servers inside its doors, he added.