Server Makers Start Shipping Barcelona Boxes
Published: April 17, 2008
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
The top brass at chip maker Advanced Micro Devices must be breathing a sigh of partial relief, now that the quad-core "Barcelona" variants of the Rev F Opteron processors have begun shipping in servers made by AMD's OEM partners. I say it is a partial sigh of relief because the shipment of the delayed and once faulty Barcelona chip to OEM customers roughly coincides with an announcement that AMD is going to cut around 10 percent of its workforce and the departure of Phil Hester as its chief technology officer over the past weekend.
In the middle of last week, as The Unix Guardian was going to press, AMD announced that the Barcelona processors, which are officially known as the Quad-Core AMD Opteron, are available and shipping in its channel of server maker partners. The company said that 10 validated server platforms were shipping, and more are coming online this week. Among the heavy hitters in the server space, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Sun Microsystems have put Barcelona chips into their boxes; server motherboard and system maker Super Micro, energy efficient machine supplier Rackable Systems, and supercomputer maker Appro have also announced support for Barcelona processors.
The Barcelona quad-core Opterons are used in used in two-socket (2000 series) and four-socket and larger machines (8000 series); the "Budapest" Rev F Opteron chips for single socket servers (1000 series) are not yet available, and are not expected until the mid-to-late second quarter. The new B3 stepping of the Barcelona and Budapest chips has the table lookahead buffer errata fixed, which is the important thing. AMD has not be able to goose the clock speeds of the chips, even though it has been working with its 65 nanometer processes since last summer to perfect them. That means the standard Barcelona parts are available at 2 GHz and 2.3 GHz with 2 MB of L3 cache as well. Low-voltage "Highly Efficient" Opteron HE variants of Barcelona chips are expected before the end of the second quarter, too, and will run at 1.8 GHz and 1.9 GHz, while "Special Edition" Opteron SE variants, which clock higher at 2.4 GHz and 2.5 GHz (and burn a lot hotter than the 75-watts of the standard Opterons) are expected later this year.
Because the Barcelona Opterons are socket-compatible with the dual-core "Santa Rosa" Rev F Opterons, HP could plunk the quad-core Opterons into its ProLiant BL465c and 685c blade servers, its ML115 tower server, and its DL165, DL185, DL365, DL385, and DL585 servers. HP has also launched versions of its machinery that only support the new Barcelona chips, but it is not immediately obvious from the feeds and speeds what makes these ProLiant BL465c G5 and ProLiant 685c G5 machines different from their G4 predecessors. The ProLiant DL165 is a new two-socket box that only supports Barcelona chips. By the way, HP is selling 2.1 GHz and 2.3 GHz variants of Barcelona chips. Not 2 GHz and 2.3 GHz versions, as AMD said it would deliver. The G5 variants of the ProLiant DL365 (1U two-socket server) and the DL385 (2U two-socket server) are also supporting only Barcelona chips; the G4 machines only support dual-core Rev F Opterons. The DL585 G5 is a four-socket rack machine that only supports Barcelonas, and the ML115 G5 is a new tower box that only has a single socket, so it is not available yet with support for the Budapest chips even though HP's press relations people said it was supporting Barcelona.
Over at Dell, the Barcelonas have made it into the PowerEdge SC1435, 2970, M605, and 6950 servers. The S1435 is a two-socket, 1U rack server that was already supporting the dual-core Rev Fs, and Dell is supporting Barcelonas running at four speeds: 2 GHz. 2.1 GHz, 2.2 GHz, 2.3 GHz. The PowerEdge 2970 is a 2U rack server with two sockets and the PowerEdge 6950 has two sockets as well and comes in a 4U case; both were also designed for to initially support the earlier Rev F chips. The PowerEdge M605 is an existing Opteron-based two-socket server that now has a Barcelona option.
Sun is putting two new "Galaxy" machines into the field supporting the Barcelona chips: the X4140, which is an existing 1U, two-socket machine that supported the existing dual-core Rev F chips, and the X4440, an existing four-socket, 4U box that also supported Rev F chips and now the Barcelonas.
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