AMD Scores Big With OEMs on Barcelona

Now that AMD (NYSE: AMD) has gotten its troubles behind it and is producing its Quad Core Opteron in large volumes, tier 1 OEMs are lining up to announce hardware systems supporting the long-delayed processor line.

The Quad Core Opteron, a.k.a. Barcelona, had been plagued by development delays and was several months late. Just as it was ready to ship, it discovered a bug called “errata” that could cause certain memory-related errors under certain conditions. This delayed the new Opterons by another six months.

Perhaps the best news for AMD is that not only did OEMs stay with the chipmaker through its lengthy delays, they will expand their offerings. Last month Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) announced an eight-processor ProLiant system, its largest ever to feature AMD chips, and now Dell is broadening its offerings.

Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) today announced five new servers based on Quad Core Opteron, a boost from the three it initially offered. More than that, the new Dell offerings are blade and tower systems, something the company didn’t offer the last time.

Dell’s PowerEdge SC1435, 2970 and M605 blade server are all two-socket systems that can deliver up to 79 percent better performance compared with the same systems running dual-core Opteron processors, according to Dell.

Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA) has also entered the Quad Core Opteron market with two offerings, the 1U, dual-socket (Sun Fire X4140) server and 2U (four socket X4440) unit. Both are available as dual-core systems but upgradable to quad core by replacing the processors.

“For a lot of the OEMs, having the ability to seamlessly upgrade dual core to quad core means they were develop systems that could take advantage of our processor plans,” John Fruehe, worldwide business development manager for Opteron at AMD, told

Fruehe said it was the best decision on AMD’s part not to ship with the TLB errata bug, even though the number of people possibly affected was small. “Our partners felt it was the right thing to do because it’s their name on the box,” he said.

Also giving AMD a thumbs-up is VMware, which has completed qualification of Quad-Core Opteron processors for use in VMware ESX and ESXi hypervisor deployments and has certified them as ready for use. This is important not only because of VMware’s popularity, but because the TLB errata bug was most likely to surface in a virtualized environment.

“That’s the biggest clean bill of health you can get when you’ve got the VMware certification,” Fruehe said. “That says you found the problem, and everything is fixed because you’ve got that certification.”

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