Dell unveils its first servers running Opterons

Dell is introducing PowerEdge model servers, its first running on AMD processors

Dell is coming out with its first servers running Advanced Micro Devices's Opteron processors.

Dell introduced the PowerEdge 6950, a four-socket server, and the PowerEdge SC1435, a two-socket model, Monday at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco.

Dell says the 6950, with a base price of US$6,500, is designed for demanding computing work such as database management, server consolidation, virtualization and migration from RISC (reduced instruction set computing) processor-based systems.

The SC1435, with a base price of US$1,300, is designed to run in dense rack server environments and is targeted at small- to medium-size businesses seeking improved price-performance and energy-efficiency.

Dell, like other server makers, is touting the efficiency of new models as data center managers try to curtail power consumption due to high energy costs.

Up until now, Dell had used only Intel server processors, but is now joining server competitors Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, IBM and others in offering AMD Opteron processors as an alternative to Intel's Xeon processors.

"Dell finally came around," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight 64, a technology market research firm.

Dell had been able to satisfy its customer by selling only Intel-powered machines, but when AMD's Opteron began to cut into Intel's market dominance, Dell's customers started asking for the Opteron alternative, too.

"Until the past 12 months, [not offering Opteron] never really hurt Dell, but it was beginning to have an impact," Brookwood said.

Hector Ruiz, AMD's chief executive officer hinted at the Dell announcement during a keynote address he made at OpenWorld, which organizers said is to draw more than 40,000 IT professionals this week at the Moscone Center.

Ruiz said the main reason the tech economy slumped in the early 2000s wasn't because of typical economic fluctuations. "It was because IT professionals didn't have the choices you needed," he said. "Now you will have a real choice in processors."

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