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AMD begins fully-buffered blade attack on Intel

Precious, precious watts

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AMD made its blade server pitch yesterday to Wall Street and leaked out one area where it looks to hit Intel in the coming months.

Close chip watchers know that Intel and its OEMs plan to support Fully-Buffered DIMMs in 2007. This memory technology will provide a number of features that should benefit server makers, including high-performance, the ability to spread memory out on motherboards, lower pin counts and better overall reliability. AMD, however, wants customers to know there is a power consumption cost with the technology too.

Marty Seyer, a vice president at AMD, warned that the power consumption issues of FB-DIMMs could hurt Intel's play in the blade server market, during a Merrill Lynch-hosted conference call with analysts and reporters. AMD reckons that a standard DDR DIMM needs 5.4 watts, a DDR2 DIMM needs 4.4 watts and a DDR2 FB-DIMM needs 10.4 watts. Pack a few sticks of memory in a server and that extra load adds up.

Intel has historically been a bad performer in the performance per watt area with its server chips. AMD was just about as bad until it released the Opteron chip and went with an integrated memory controller.

In the blade market, watts are precious, and AMD may well have a point about FB-DIMMs being problematic. Without question, the company plans to push the evils of FB-DIMMs, so stay tuned for a marketing barrage there.

One item AMD will likely spend less time discussing is its move to a 65nm manufacturing process. During the Merrill Lynch call, AMD revealed that it won't make a 65nm push until the second half of 2006. Intel will move to 65nm with server chips in early 2006, potentially giving it a nice cost edge. ®

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