32-Way Opteron Systems Could Ship Next Year
STANFORD, CALIF. -- An interconnect chipset permitting server vendors to design up to 32-way Opteron systems will be available later this year, executives from Newisys Inc. said Monday night.
Newisys, started as an Austin, Tex.-based startup in July 2000, was acquired by contract manufacturing giant Sanmina/SCI in July 2003. In 2003, before the Sanmina/SCI acquisition, Newisys executives had talked about shipping a 32-way Opteron by the fourth quarter of that year.
Instead, the "Horus" chip was designed to allow a glueless 8-way system using AMD's Opteron chip. The number of processors could also be increased if multiple cores are used. Newisys executives told a Hot Chips conference audience here that the Horus chip has taped out, will sample later this year, and will ship to systems partners in early 2005.
"We wanted to get the message out that Opteron is not going to stop at 4 sockets or 8 sockets but go beyond," said Rich Oehler, the company's chief technology officer. "We have the technology to do that."
Increasing the scalability of the Opteron would be an important step toward increasing the penetration of the chip into higher-end servers. Although the bulk of the servers sold today are one-way and two-way boxes, the "big iron" back-end data centers require scalability to 32-way and above. In 2000, for example, NEC's Azuza chipset allowed 32-way Intel Itanium servers to be designed.
Eight boxes based on the Horus chip could be used in a rack, or in a blade server, executives said. In that context, the Horus would serve as a controller, Oehler said, maintaining connections between the processors using the Opteron's HyperTransport links. Using coherent external HT links, the scalability can be bumped up to 32 processors, Newisys executive Rajesh Kota said.
The Horus chipset also includes two redundant system management processors for powering on the server and other functions. Powering on and off the server by sending power-management commands flowing through the system is not trivial, Oehler said
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