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HP preps (more) Opteron 6100 racks and blades

Whither 4100 baby boxes?

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And the blades...

On the blade front, the rumor is that HP will update two Opteron blade servers — the two-socket, half-height ProLiant BL465c and the four-socket, full-height BL685c — so they can use AMD's chipsets and the Opteron 6100 chips.

The BL465c G6 has eight DDR2 memory slots, and another blade, the BL495c G6, is also a two-socket, half-height Opteron server machine that had sixteen DDR2 slots. Apparently, this BL495c G6 blade will not be updated to use the Opteron 6100 chips. Or more precisely, the two-socket BL465c G7 will look a lot like the BL495c G6, sporting sixteen memory slots and two Opteron sockets, and there will not be an Opteron 6100 blade with only eight memory slots.

The Opteron 6100s have twice the cores per socket and the G7 blades can use 16GB memory sticks instead of 8GB modules, and that means HP and AMD can say this blade packs twice the oomph of its predecessor. But in the dark with the covers off, wandering around the blades with your fingers, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference, I suspect.

The four-socket BL685c G6 blade has 32 memory slots to feed those six-core Opteron 8400 processors, and it looks like the new G7 version sporting Opteron 6100s will also have 32 slots. With 16GB DDR3 DIMMs, the machine maxes out at 512GB, the peak you can get in a four-socket Magny-Cours box because of the limits on the memory controller, without leaving any empty slots.

What no one seems to be talking about yet is how HP plans to use the "Lisbon" six-core and eight-core Opteron 4100s in low-priced racks, towers, or blades with one or two sockets. These chips are supposed to be the price/performance leaders, and they're due in the second quarter (which runs from June through August). No one likes to do launches in July or August because of the summer holidays, so that should mean a June launch — quite possibly concurrent with HP's upcoming server ProLiant announcements, presumably coming at the Tech Forum 2010, which runs from June 21 through 23. While we have good information on the feeds and speeds of the upcoming ProLiant Xeon 7500 and Opteron 6100 servers, the exact timing of the launch is still unclear.

Vendors have been somewhat slow about getting Opteron 6100 products into the field, no doubt because of the re-engineering and qualification they need to do in what is still a tough economy. Doing such work for a product that will represent 80 per cent of your volume can be justified, but it is harder to justifying doing the same work for a product that might be only 20 per cent of shipments. No one is talking about Opteron 4100 servers, and presumably they are right around the corner. ®

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