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IBM fails to ship even the most meager four-core Opteron box

Do you know the way to Barcelona?

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Exclusive When the four-core "Barcelona" version of Opteron launched in Sept., IBM shouted louder than any other Tier 1 server vendor about the chip's performance. It touted the 1.9GHz Opteron-based System x 3455 as a marvel, running the box through the SPEC CPU2006 suite. And now, just a few weeks later, IBM has flagged its benchmarks as non-compliant because it cannot get the systems to customers in a reasonable amount of time.

The benchmark gurus at SPEC (the Standard Performance Evaluation Corp.) insist that vendors be able to ship their gear within 90 days of issuing a fresh test score. IBM apparently saw that it would fail to meet this requirement because of a lack of 1.9GHz chips, even though it had 90 days from Sept. 10 to find the chips. It needs more Opterons to perform benchmark tests and to pump out gear to consumers. And the 1.9Ghz chips are the slowest - and allegedly most plentiful - standard four-core parts AMD has to offer.(There are slower low voltage chips.)

AMD has admitted some constraint around supply with the four-core Opterons, but if IBM can't get enough of even the slowest, volume chips, then who can? During a recent earnings call, the chip maker said it has moved tens of thousands of the new chips so far, but Sun, for example, has consumed about 16,000 chips alone for Texas supercomputer.

Does this leave Sun as the only vendor getting its fair share of Barcelonas?

AMD has acknowledged the release of Barcelona hasn't turned out just as it would like, but then you knew that already. And despite the lack of even the modest 1.9GHz parts, the company insists it will ship 2.5GHz chips in volume before the end of the year.

In the meantime, IBM has to look the sucker with NON COMPLIANT stamped all over its benchmarks.

The vendor refused to comment for our story, declining in particular to say when the fresh x3455s will be available. There's no sign of them on IBM's web site today. ®

Register editor Ashlee Vance has just pumped out a new book that's a guide to Silicon Valley. The book starts with the electronics pioneers present in the Bay Area in the early 20th century and marches up to today's heavies. Want to know where Gordon Moore eats Chinese food, how unions affected the rise of microprocessors or how Fairchild Semiconductor got its start? This is the book for you - available at Amazon US here or in the UK here.

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