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AMD grows very own Opteron chipsets

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Whither the tier one?

Oddly enough, as we go to press, AMD has not yet released the feeds and speeds that tell you the differences between the three Fiorano chipset pairings, except to say that the I/O configurations and power consumption of the chips are different. The Fiorano implementation of the SR5690/SP5100 pair can scale to a maximum of eight processor sockets, if motherboard makers and server makers want to go there. But the Maranello version of the chipset will apparently top out at four sockets.

The SR5650 seems to be aimed at low-power servers and AMD's Highly Efficient (HE) and Extremely Efficient (EE) Opteron parts, which are rated at 55 watts and 40 watts, respectively, compared to 75 watts for standard parts. Motherboard maker Tyan, in fact, has taken the low-power "Kroner" server specification that El Reg told you about back in June. The Kroner spec involves making a half-width, two-socket motherboard, which allows server makers to cram two who servers into a single 1U or 2U chassis.

Tyan's S8208 motherboard, which will be available on November 9, pairs the Istanbul Opteron EE chip with the SR5650/SP5100 chipset to radically cut back on power consumption. How much? Tyan is not saying yet. This board will only be sold in custom engagements for hyperscale data centers. Tyan has an ATX board based on the Fiorano chipsets called the S8005 that comes out in October, which appears to be a single-socket server board, and another MEB super-dense board called the S8212 for two-socket boxes that will be available before the end of September. Thus far, Tyan does not seem to have four-socket boards for the Fiorano chipsets. Tyan is also selling 1U servers using these three boards, according to AMD.

Over at motherboard and whitebox server maker has three motherboards it is kicking out using the Fiorano chipsets. The H83D13+ and H8DIi+ uses the SR5690/SP5100 chipset combination and creates a two-socket EATX board with either Gigabit Ethernet or InfiniBand NICs. This board is available in September. The H8DA6+ and H8DA6i+ are also EATX boards, but have features that are aimed at rendering and technical computing workloads.

Specifically, this is a two-socket board that has 16 DDR3 main memory slots, four PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots, two x4 slots, and one PCI slot. It ships in October. So does a SWTX variant of this board, which sports four RevF sockets, 16 memory slots, and six PCI-Express slots. Super Micro will be kicking out 1U, 2U, and 4U as well as blade servers based on these boards and Fiorano chipsets over in September and October.

The details are a bit sketchy on the mobos and boxes coming out of Tyan and Super Micro.

So where are all of the tier one and tier two server makers when it comes to the Fiorano chipsets? What are Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Sun Microsystems, IBM, and Fujitsu planning? Not much, apparently.

"We don’t expect them to come to market now," explains Gina Longoria, server and workstations senior product manager at AMD. "They are focusing all of their efforts on time to market with Maranello."

The Magny-Cours chips and the Maranello platform are expected in the first quarter. Presumably, the major server makers are also looking ahead to the Lisbon Opterons and their related San Marino platforms, too Thus far, AMD has not said when to expect these to come to market, but the odds favor the second quarter.

By the way, Longoria says that AMD is not going to make its own motherboards, unlike Intel. And she adds that AMD is not releasing pricing information on the chipsets either and that the chipsets started shipping to motherboard makers in August so they would be ready to launch here in September. ®

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