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Dell may binge on quad-core Opterons

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In Texas terms, Dell has gone the piglet with its Opteron server line rather than going the whole hog. That, however, could change with AMD's release of the four-core "Barcelona" processors.

Dell today promotes two Opteron systems - the four-socket PowerEdge 6950 and the two-socket SC1435. And getting those two boxes wasn't easy. It took an army of consultants, hypnotists, savvy executives and customers to persuade Dell of Opteron's merits.

But, when AMD's four-core chips ship mid-year, Dell may end up as the leading vendor out of the gate with the new processors.

"It's during product transitions when OEMs have traditionally chosen to broaden their product portfolios," AMD's VP for servers and workstations Randy Allen told us in an interview. "Barcelona would represent another one of those inflection points, and Dell would be the most likely to (expand their product line)."

Companies such as HP and Sun Microsystems expanded their Opteron-based server lines around component transitions for AMD's chip, while IBM recently shipped a new fleet of servers with the release of Rev F Opterons. Dell could well pick Barcelona as its spot to launch blades and more low- and high-end systems with AMD's chip.

Such an expansion of Dell's server line would quash faint whispers that the company is so far unsatisfied with its Opteron rollout.

Allen dismissed any notions that Dell intends to pullback on its Opteron push.

"They are exceeding our expectations on the server side," he said.

AMD claims that the Barcelona chips will outperform Intel's four-core chips by up to 40 per cent on some software workloads. If accurate, that performance would once again return the server chip horsepower edge to AMD in a significant way. ®

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