AMD gets into multiprocessing server game

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) Tuesday moved into the server and multiprocessor workstation markets with its 1GHz and 1.2GHz Athlon MP (multiprocessor) chips, as well as the AMD-760 MP chipset for the new processors. It is AMD's first chipset to support multiple processors on a single motherboard. [Editors: New information appears in bold.]

The company unveiled the products here during the Computex Taipei 2001 trade show, where Taiwan's many motherboard and system vendors are showing off their wares at Asia's largest IT show of the year. Ed Ellet, AMD's vice president for workstation and server marketing, said the introduction marks a turning point in the processor industry toward across-the-board competition that will drive all competitors to greater things.

"On a global scale, today's announcement may seem to signal a small change in a large industry, but let me remind you that ours is a key industry, and one that has been held back for years by predatory competitive practices," Ellet said.

"The effect of today's launch ... will help to change the competitive environment in our industry," he said.

The new chipset will support up to two processors, and is aimed at use inside PCs for the engineering, digital content creation (DCC) and financial markets, Linda Kohout, brand manager for AMD said in an interview in the U.S on Monday. "We're specifically going after the financial market, the people who need accuracy of our floating-point capabilities," she added. AMD has also extended its 3DNow offerings to include 3DNow Professional on the new Athlon MP processors, for CAD (computer-assisted design) and DCC applications.

The MP architecture is designed to have the "processor working in concert with the chipset," Kohout said. Neither processor is idle when the other is in use, and the first processor can use the memory cache of the second processor if it needs to, she added.

The chipset also has a cache coherency protocol, which lets data transfer smoothly when data from one processor is needed by the other, and when data is shared between the two, reducing memory traffic and increasing bandwidth.

The company's offerings will focus on the entry-level server market, of one and two-processor systems. "They are natural places for us to try and put our systems in place," Kohout said.

"We're also enabling specific frequencies that our enterprise customers are asking for, and we'll be offering them for a period of time that's acceptable to them," she said, noting that the company will stick to the architecture behind the chips until at least 2003.

More than 20 server vendors, including Alienware Corp., Boldata Technology Inc. and Racksaver Inc. will begin offering Athlon MP servers immediately, with others, including VA Linux Systems Inc., to follow. However, top-tier vendors such as IBM Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. are not among them.

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