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Rev F - The F is for A+

After some minor delays, AMD managed to push the Rev F - aka Socket F - versions of Opteron out the door last week.

When compared to Intel's recent release of the Woodcrest chip, AMD's Rev F dance looks like the definition of minor upgrade. One server seller put it well to us at LinuxWorld, saying "Intel turned itself on its head to get Woodcrest out and stop the serious bleeding, while Rev F just gives you some virtualization stuff and prepares everyone for four-core chips." And, in fact, the migration toward higher pin counts is one of the more gripping parts of the Rev F announcement.

We'd love to hear if any of you out there can actually buy Rev F-based systems. AMD tells us the chip is already shipping in volume and that "anyone who wants one can get one."

Not so, according to our moles.

One smaller server vendor said his company has been struggling to cope against the big boys for months because AMD cannot supply enough Opterons. He has pushed people toward Xeon sales simply because he can guarantee that chips are available - even if they're old, junky non-Woodcrest chips.

He expects this situation to get worse now that IBM and Dell have joined Sun and HP as serious Opteron sellers. AMD, in some ways, could be thanking Intel for pushing Woodcrest out. It might lower Opteron demand enough for AMD to meet its supply commitments.

Some of the first Rev F systems to arrive from a Tier I have appeared at Sun.

The company last week announced two low-end servers and a workstation centered around the chip. The Sun Fire X2100 M2 and X2200 M2 servers take up just 1U of rack space and stand as basic additions to Sun's Opteron server line. Sun has used the M2 designation to mark the Rev F versions of the one-socket X2100 and two-socket X2200. The new servers should go on sale this month, and Sun plans to put out Rev F versions of its existing Opteron systems by the end of the year.

Along with the servers, Sun also shipped the Sun Ultra 20 M2 workstation - code-named Munich.

Sun managed to take care of its core UltraSPARC business as well last week. Customers will find an UltraSPARC IV+ refresh across Sun's entire server line with the chip's speed hitting 1.8GHz - up from 1.5GHz on average.

Customers using the newer UltraSPARC T1-based servers in California can enjoy an upgrade of a different sort thanks to an unusual promotion Sun has forged in partnership with local energy concern PG&E.

"PG&E will give rebates to California businesses for jettisoning our competitors products, and replacing them with more efficient Niagara machines, our UltraSPARC T1000 or T2000 servers," Sun's CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote on his glob. "If you ever get asked by a cynic, or your management 'what's the real value of being green?,' I can give you a very specific answer, at least for Sun. In the State of California, it's worth $700 to $1000 per server. I did say per server. Every single bid we're in across the state just got $700 to $1,000 per server more competitive."

Rev F Assortment

Most customers will be waiting a fair bit to see Rev F gear appear from IBM and HP.

IBM has said that its new Opteron gear will ship in the "third quarter." Meanwhile, our sources inside of HP say that company expects to be four to six weeks behind rivals on the Rev F front. Why the delay? Well, HP focused a ton of attention on getting it C-class blade servers done and dusted. As a result of the delay, customers can expect to hear HP's sales force hawking Woodcrest with a bit more vigor over the next quarter.

New Rev F gear can also be found from the following vendors:

  • Penguin Computing has started touting the new Altus 1600 and 2600 servers. "Penguin's 1U Altus 1600 and 2U Altus 2600 severs feature SATA, SCSI and SAS storage options to suit a variety of storage needs, expansion slots for PCI Express serial input/output technology, to accommodate high-performance cluster fabrics and enterprise-class storage adapters, and optional PCI-X slots, for legacy expansion cards," the company said. "The new Altus line also incorporates many enhancements to increase efficiency, including up to 24GB of DDR2 memory to ensure a reliable 24/7 duty cycle."
  • Supermicro flagged up an entire new A+ Server line built around Rev F at LinuxWorld. Customers can pick from six systems, ranging in size from a 1U dual-socket box to a 4U quad-socket beauty. You'll find detailed specs here.
  • Major Opteron seller Rackable Systems has also announced a Rev F wave. Although, the rather unhelpful vendor has not provided any exact details on when the Rev F-based gear will arrive and its web site provides little help at this point. Rackable executives have said they expect to sell fewer Opteron-based servers in the months ahead, as customers start buying Xeon-based kit again.

Now, on to the LinuxWorld recap.

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