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IBM's on again, off again relationship with AMD's Opteron processor turned on again this week with word that servers using new dual-core versions of the chip will be placed in large, pre-built clusters.

In July, IBM will include both single core and dual-core based Opteron servers in its Cluster 1350 system. Big Blue had previously offered the single core Opteron along with Intel's Xeon chip and its own PowerPC chip in this cluster system. With the dual core Opteron, customers will tap some serious compute power as the Cluster 1350 can ship with thousands of processors.

Two years ago, IBM proudly came out as the first major server vendor to back AMD's fledgling x86-64-bit chip. Since then, however, it has watched HP and Sun Microsystems become the major Opteron vendors with both companies offering a wide variety of workstations and servers.

IBM has relegated its Opteron servers more to the high performance and scientific computing realms. That's a nice fit for the Cluster 1350, which is a type of pre-built system aimed at customers who demand very high levels of compute power along with the Linux operating system.

Not only will IBM include its standard rackmount 326 server with the dual-core Opteron chip in the Cluster 1350 but it will also offer its new LS20 Opteron-based blade. El Reg uncovered this system back in May. AMD's strong Opteron design gives it some of the best performance per watt around, which should please customers looking to fill up a rack of densely packed systems. IBM has been forced to admit to rather embarrassing power consumption problems with its other blades.

Along with the new hardware support, IBM said it has added the Voltaire InfiniBand Switch Router 9288 as a networking option on the Cluster 1350. It will also now let customers use the OpenPower 710 and 720 systems as management and storage servers for clusters using IBM's JS20 blades. ®

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