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AMD cooking up low-power, twin server

Making Istanbul cool(er)

Meet the twins

First, it will be a so-called "twin" server design, which will put two half-width motherboards side-by-side in a single chassis; presumably each board has two processor sockets. IF AMD's Kroner design follows what is happening with the dense systems based on Intel's "Nehalem EP" Xeon 5500 processors (such as Hewlett-Packard designs here and here or Super Micro designs here), then Kroner will probably put two or four physical servers on trays inside a 2U rack-mounted chassis and let customers choose different disk options depending on how many servers they put in the chassis.

The Kroner low-power server will also not support 75-watt standard Opteron parts or 105-watt Special Edition (SE) parts, which run a little faster and a lot hotter, according to Kerby, who would not confirm if the Kroner design will support both 40-watt Extremely Efficient (EE) and 55-watt Highly Efficient parts, or if the platform would be restricted to Istanbul chips. There is no technical reason why Shanghai Opterons can't plug in. The Istanbul EE, HE, and SE parts are not expected to start shipping until the third quarter, so Kroner could be waiting for these. But if AMD wants to push Shanghais in Kroner platforms, it doesn't have to wait.

Last year, the roadmaps for the Maranello and San Marino platforms were highlighting a technology called APML remote power management, which allows for the remote monitoring and control of the power states of the Opteron processors, and guess what, it is already in the Istanbul chips. What APML will do is allow system administrators to set power caps on servers remotely, presumably through their normal system management tools, without having to go into the BIOS of each server. This APML technology is being emphasized in the Kroner platform. The emphasis on APML suggests that Kroner will focus on Istanbul chips.

The Kroner servers will also sport voltage regulator modules on the motherboards that are precisely sized to the processors used on the boards. These regulators consume power and they have to be sized to span the full range of Opteron processors in a generic motherboard.

Every single watt counts at these hyperscale customers, and Kroner aims to squeeze as many of them out of the system as can be done. It will be up to the system makers, who are all clamoring for a spot at the bargaining table among these hyperscale data centers, to create systems to use the Kroner design.

Kerby would not comment on the ODMs and OEMs who helped drive the Kroner design and who might be picking it up for future products. ®

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