Hewlett-Packard Co. Tuesday, in a widely expected move, said it will sell server computers that run on Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s Opteron microprocessors, a cheaper alternative to industry leader Intel Corp.’s Itanium and Xeon chips.
H-P, based in Palo Alto, California, said that it will start selling a ProLiant branded-server that runs on AMD’s 64-bit Opteron processor. Currently, the majority of servers that H-P sells are based on Intel technology.
H-P’s move to Opteron follows that of its major competitors including International Business Machines Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc..
However, Dell Inc., No. 2 in the personal computer market behind HP, last week said it had no plans to use AMD’s chips because customers were not interested in it.
H-P said that its customers had been asking for the chip.
“We never said we’d never do it. It’s just that Intel has been able to solve all of our customer needs until now,” said Scott Stallard, H-P general manager for enterprise storage and servers.
Last month, Reuters, citing sources, reported that H-P would soon start selling servers using the Opteron processor. H-P has been Intel’s primary partner in rolling out Itanium, its own 64-bit processor. That chip has been credited as a sharp advance in computing power but which has been slowed in the market by its higher price.
Opteron, like the far more expensive 64-bit Itanium, crunches 64 bits of data at a time compared with the 32 bits processed at once in the Intel-standard, or x86 chips.
That means that Opteron and Itanium are faster at data-intensive computer uses than the 32-bit variety that Intel’s Xeon server chips represent.
H-P, a strong Intel supporter, also said it plans to roll out later this year Intel Xeon 64-bit extensions into current ProLiant models.
In addition to running software that is built for 64-bit chips, Opteron also has the ability to run software that has been designed for a 32-bit system and, on that basis, has power and performance advantage over Intel’s Xeon chip, Stallard said.
Intel is the world’s largest microprocessor while AMD is a distant second, making the acceptance of its Opteron chip an important indication of its ability to be competitive. H-P said that it had signed a multiyear deal with AMD.
H-P said it will start shipping different versions of servers using the Opteron processors in March and also in the second half. A blade-version of H-P’s Opteron server will be available in the second half of this year.