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AMD aims Bobcat at servers

AMD aims Bobcat at servers

AMD's Bobcat design - and specifically the netbook-oriented Ontario chip - will appear in low-power servers, the company has confirmed.

The use of processors originally designed for portable devices with an extremely low power draw in servers is rapidly gathering pace, with all the major chip companies getting in on the act - including AMD.

We've already seen the SM10000 server, which stuffs 512 Atom processors into its 10U casing to perform large quantities of small, independent tasks, while back in 2009 Dell announced it was to launch a Via Nano-based server. Even ARM - better known for its presence in the embedded computing and smartphone markets - is looking towards servers with the addition of virtualisation extensions to the Eagle chip.

So far, the only company not represented in the netbook-server-crossover sector is AMD - but the company's Bobcat processor could change all that. According to iTWorld, AMD's Donald Newell has confirmed the company's plans to make design a Bobcat processor for the server market - going so far as to state that AMD is "definitely in the process of examining this as a design point - it would be foolish not to."

AMD has long been under-represented in the low-power processor sector, with very few CULV designs and nothing suitable for use in a netbook - but the company's Bobcat design - which we previewed earlier this week - looks set to change that, and possibly let the company compete at a whole new end of the server market.

Do you believe that many-core, low-power servers could truly be the battleground of the future, or are they only suitable for very specific tasks - and therefore targeting a very small and increasingly crowded market? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

6 Comments

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TWeaK 27th August 2010, 14:55 Quote
I'm really losing my faith in AMD. What's the point of routing for the underdog when they stumble over so many important things (Llano anyone?)? The fact that they're only just starting to consider developing something low-power for the server market when every other player is already half-way there at least is just another example of this.

God I almost sound like crazyceo.

ARM are the new AMD. Now, if only Microsoft would hurry up and make a decent version of Windows for it...
Goty 27th August 2010, 15:39 Quote
Well, since Llano hasn't been released, yet, I wouldn't really call it a stumble. If you're talking about the release date being moved back, you've got to consider the fact that the process technologies simply weren't there to make it any earlier.
TWeaK 27th August 2010, 16:31 Quote
I was referring to Llano merely being yet another revision of the ancient K8 architecture, although you're right that I shouldn't pass judgement until it's released and tested. It's just that people have been pinning hopes on Bulldozer bringing AMD back into contention but now we find it's geared towards the server/workstation market, with everyone else being left with K8 for their desktops.

I am still optimistic about Bobcat though, it could be good to have a netbook with reasonable performance. I just think they're coming in too late for the low power server market. I think those in the know will probably lean towards ARM once their products are out and those who want Windows servers or anything else will likely go for Intel.
Goty 27th August 2010, 19:41 Quote
You do realize that AMD has traditionally released new architectures for the server space first and then re-purposed them for the desktop, right? That's exactly what happened in the Opteron-Athlon 64 generation and that worked out quite well, now didn't it?

Also, Llano is not going to just be K8 with a GPU strapped onto it; there should be modifications made similar to those in the Athlon 64 -> Phenom -> Phenom II transitions. The only source out there claiming it's going to be an unmodified K8 is Fuad over at Fudzilla, and he's a certified moron.
TWeaK 28th August 2010, 04:17 Quote
I never said that it was going to be pure K8, but let's face it: compared to the Core i series or even the Core 2 series AMD and its K8 derivatives just haven't cut the mustard. Sure, they'll probably bring out an enthusiast chip based on the Bulldozer design but I doubt it will have the performance advantage Opterons had in their day. Meanwhile, we're being told to wait just a little while longer (yet again) until we can have something worth splashing out on, other than for budget/power efficiency needs.

I do still hope AMD can get its foot in the door and deliver something worthwhile, but I'm almost completely out of hope. If it wasn't for ATi I'd completely write the company off.
theflatworm 29th August 2010, 23:46 Quote
Am I the only one who thinks the headline: "AMD aims Bobcat at servers" is awesome? Reminds me of:
http://xkcd.com/325/ which is one of the best internet cartoons ever!
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