AMD sees low-power low-cost datacentres for cloud providers

By Andrew Charlesworth
20 Mar 2012 View Comments
AMD Opteron logo

AMD has laid out its vision for a new generation of ultra-low-power highly dense datacentres with the official launch today of its low-cost low-power server processor, Opteron 3200.

"It's a processor with a desktop pricing structure, but server-grade manageability and reliability," said John Fruehe, director of product marketing director at AMD.

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The company has also said it is within two weeks of completing its acquisition of SeaMicro, begun late last year.

Using SeaMicro's fabric computing technology, AMD says its system integration partners will be able to build dense, highly power-efficient low-cost datacentres.

Previously codenamed Zurich, the Opteron 3200 is aimed at hosting providers who have previously used desktop chips to keep costs down when providing dedicated servers for their customers, but who need server-class reliability with a 24x7 duty cycle, said Fruehe.

The processor supports AMD's server chipsets and has server operating system certification, including Linux iterations and Windows Server.

The single-socket processors are priced from $99 to $229. Assuming a typical dedicated hosting contract, a service provider could expect to see a return on investment after seven months, claimed Fruehe.

The 3000 series processors provide the budget end of AMD's server processor range, with the high-end 6000 series providing high performance, and the power-optimised 4000 providing high density.

With AMD's acquisition of SeaMicro all but complete, the company is developing SeaMicro's fabric computing concept to provide ultra-high-density computing power, said Fruehe.

AMD's vision for fabric computing comprises numerous "compute nodes" – each a 5in x 11in card populated by a system-on-a-chip processor, custom ASIC and memory – integrated into a chassis via PCI Express and sharing hard drives and networking connectivity.

Up to 150 nodes could be integrated into a 10u chassis, said Freuhe.

"We want [our system integrator partners] to take the fabric technology and drive beyond the chassis and into racks and even whole datacentres," he added.

The ASIC provides the I/O virtualisation logic which enables multiple processors to share drive and networking resources. It also helps conserve power using "turn-it-off" technology which monitors which facilities are being used and powers down those that aren't.

SeaMicro's computing fabric technology could yield datacentres that take up one sixth of the floor space and consume a quarter of the power, but provide 12 times the computing bandwidth of conventional datacentres, said Freuhe.

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