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Dell finally discovers Opteron servers

These things save energy. Who knew?

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Dell on Monday finally gave AMD the big squeeze, when it popped out a pair of Opteron-based servers.

Chairman Michael Dell unveiled the AMD gear with relatively little fanfare during a keynote at the Oracle Open World event in San Francisco. He touted the four-socket PowerEdge 6950, talked up the two-socket PowerEdge SC1435 and then went on to cheer Intel's upcoming four-core chips. It was the type of moderate public relations play you've come to expect from the vendor that continues to define boring boxes.

The only hoopla that Dell mustered was a pre-keynote cartoon where King Dell battled evil creatures from "Proprietaryville." The cartoon Dell sang and danced with caricatures of Oracle chief Larry Ellison and EMC chief Joe Tucci.

The trio came up with lines such as, "When we work together, there can be no disputing. We will have industry standard computing" and "Let big iron feel our steel because our partnership is real."

The cartoon went so far as to have Intel chief Paul Otellini and AMD chief Hector Ruiz dancing together. Dell really has to kiss a lot of ass these days, now that it's given up the Intel-only stance.

The new Opteron-based servers ship with no surprises. The four-socket 6950 starts at $6,499 and looks like Dell's other PowerEdge gear. It's aimed at handling databases and RISC migration – Dell's favorite pastime. The box also consumes 20 per cent less power than Dell's Intel-based four-socket systems.

The SC1435 leans more toward the high performance computing crowd. It's a thin, rackmount server that starts at $1,299.

Along with touting the new hardware, Dell championed his company's environmental efforts.

He noted that Dell shipped 23.5m PCs last year. If each one of these systems had used the latest more energy efficient chips from Intel, then Dell's customers could have saved $1.6bn on electricity costs and reduced their carbon dioxide output by 12.5 million tons. Of course, similar gains could have been shown for Dell's customer base if the company had embraced Opteron sooner, but Dell didn't bother to mention that.

The cartoon shown by Dell appeared to come from the same firm that did the previous Tech Force ads. We busted the ad firm Maverick Productions last year for hosting the cartoons on a Solaris powered web site.

"We believe the Sun is setting over Proprietaryville," Dell closed, as he left the OpenWorld stage.

If recent server sales figures are any indication, Dell is mistaken. ®

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