AMD celebrates Opteron's one-year anniversary

With the skyline of Manhattan as the backdrop, Advanced Micro Device Inc.'s brought together its partners and customers Thursday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its 64-bit Opteron processor.

The event, held in the legendary Rainbow Room, gave AMD and its partners a chance to reflect on the impact of Opteron on the high-performance computing (HPC) market.

"We launched in front of people with a healthy level of trepidation," said Hector Ruiz, AMD's president and CEO. "We were making promises to remove barriers to 64-bit computing. We were going to let people migrate tomorrow, while enjoying (improved) performance today."

Ruiz noted that the support of major systems vendors IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., and Sun Microsystems Inc. helped get Opteron established. And he expects Dell Inc., the only one of the tier-one systems vendors not currently supporting Opteron, to join that group within the year.

As one would expect at such an event, the systems vendor partners only had high praise for Opteron. "Opteron has proven to be a very critical component of HPC technology," said Dave Turek, IBM's vice president of deep computing. He notes that Opteron-based servers and workstations "are an important part of our portfolio.""

AMD also noted that the support of operating systems and software vendors Computer Associates International Inc., IBM, Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., Red Hat Inc., Sun, SUSE Linux and VMware Inc., has been essential for the growing adoption of Opteron-based systems.

From a life sciences perspective, there has been some enthusiastic support for Opteron since its introduction last April. "Barriers to entry are going away," says Douglas O'Flaherty, strategic program manager at AMD.

O'Flaherty notes that much work was done during the year by various application developers to ensure informatics applications would run on the Opteron.

Additionally, O'Flaherty has been a proponent of Opteron-based systems as the new departmental clusters. Use as a departmental cluster takes advantage of Opteron's high performance and relatively low cost. "Almost every lab could have its own cluster chugging away," says O'Flaherty.

And while the cost of Opteron systems makes them attractive for departmental use, AMD noted that Opteron-based systems were also being deployed to run enterprise applications as well. One customer at the event said that he was using a quad-Opteron system to replace an eight-processor, RISC-based system. The replacement was delivering the necessary performance, and cost about 20 percent of a comparable RISC system.

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