Now that there are two competing sets of quad-core processors out there, the next step is to see how the server vendors plan to implement them. While it seems like most of the top-tier vendors are looking to play both sides of the fence, there are some intriguing systems coming from some of the lesser-known names.
First, the majors. Sun has followed up its Intel-based 16-core server with an AMD version that appears to have the same bells and whistles: dual TCP-offloading GB NIC cards, 32 DIMM (dual inline memory module) slots and redundant power and cooling. Once the price of 8 GB DIMM comes down to reasonable levels, you'll get 256 GB or memory.
Meanwhile, HP just came out with a pair of Intel quad models, the ProLiant DL580 G5 and the BL680cG5, the latter also a 16-core model. Both systems are based on the Xeon 7300, with an eye toward virtualization and server consolidation. Still, the company has reiterated its support for quad-core Opterons, with plans to release a line of servers by the end of the year.
And earlier this month, IBM offered a preview of the X4 chipset that will go into its servers by the end of the year. The X4 also will use the Xeon 7300, formerly known as the Tigerton, but will also be paired up with Intel's upcoming Caneland four-socket topology for a line of System x multiprocessor servers in the near future. One of the first units due out is the System x3950 M2, also featuring 32 DIMM slots and an embedded 4 GB USB key housing an on-board hypervisor.
In October, Fujitsu Siemens Computer plans to release the Primergy RX 600 S4 server for the Xeon 7300. The unit features an 8-port SAS controller with RAID 5 functionality, a 1067 MHz frontside bus and 4x onboard GbE controllers.
And while speculation had been growing that Dell was beginning to regret it decision last year to start using AMD processors while Intel had the quad market all to itself, CEO Michael Dell laid those rumors to rest last week, telling the CitiGroup Technology Conference that having two suppliers is the best way to keep everyone on their toes.
For those who don't mind leaving the beaten path, however, there are a number of smaller vendors coming out with quad servers. One is India's HCL Infosystems, which just released the IGL 4700 FC server using the Xeon 7300. It's a 4U box outfitted with hot-pluggable PCIe slots, hot-swappable SATA/SAS hard drives, system memory mirroring and redundant power and cooling.
In Taiwan, a company called Arimi has added quad-core Opteron support for its NK147 and NM47 motherboard, which can be split in two for installation in 1U form factors. The boards offer Dual Dynamic Power Management to deliver separate power planes for each core and memory controller. It also supports four DDR2-533/667/800 DIMM slots, six SATA II powers and the NVIDIA 3400 chipset.
In the U.S., SuperMicro Computer offers the 8015C-T, 8025C-3R and 8045C-3R SuperServers for the Xeon 7300, and the A+ server and workstation platform for the Opteron. The latter features universal I/O, dual HyperTransport links and Direct Connect Architecture.
Even though quads are the hottest things on the market these days, they are still commodity chips. The real differentiator will be how the board-level and systems level integrators put them to use.