RealTime IT News

Dell Gives AMD a Quiet Thumbs Up

It's probably no coincidence the voice mailbox of an oft-quoted Silicon Valley analyst was full and not taking messages Thursday. The computer industry was buzzing at the news that Dell had finally decided to break from Intel and add AMD processors to its product mix.

Dell is hardly backing away from its long-time partner and CPU provider Intel. In its earnings statement today, Dell announced it plans to use AMD's Opteron processor in certain multi-processor servers due out by the end of this year. The news was buried in the earning statement and followed a statement of Dell's plans to launch its ninth generation servers featuring Intel's forthcoming Woodcrest microprocessors.

Direct seller Dell prides itself on being able to bring new technology to market quickly, so the news that AMD's entry would take so long surprised analysts.

"That's a long introduction cycle for a server product, and I expected a higher volume part," Gordon Haff, principal IT advisor at Illuminata, told internetnews.com. "Obviously it's great news for AMD, but it doesn't indicate to me a wholesale shift or even a mix of processor choices like HP has done."

Dell's CEO Kevin Rollins acknowledged in a conference call with analysts that there's been a lot of questions as to when the company might add AMD. "You guys are always asking us what we'll be using." He added that AMD's Opteron has had "clear acceptance" in the marketplace. "AMD's been very successful, so we're using it."

That success has been enjoyed by Dell competitors like HP and Sun, both of which questioned what took the Round Rock, TX computer so long to adopt AMD product.

Dell's announcement "validates that to be successful you have to add AMD, given the difference in the roadmaps [versus Intel]," Graham Lovell, Sun's senior director of x64 servers, told internetnews.com. "I think Dell sees a problem in the enterprise space with multiprocessing where Sun has been strong and making gains over Dell in the multiprocessor server area, particularly in technical markets."

HP has a broad range of systems that use both Intel and AMD processors and is the leading seller of Opteron-based servers. In a statement emailed to internetnews.com the company said Dell's move was "an acknowledgment of the strengths of HP’s business model."

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT Research, said the Dell move is another indication of AMD's growing acceptance.

"When AMD shipped its first 64-bit processor, the majority opinion at the time was that once Intel got up to speed it would plow AMD under as it had every other time," said King. "That has not been the case with Opteron."

AMD has publicly announced it plans to release a new version of its Opteron server in the second half of this year which is likely to be what Dell is planning to use. Dell actually started as an AMD customer a few months ago when it bought Alienware, a supplier of high end PC video gaming systems which uses AMD processors.