Polywell selling two-way Opteron rack server

Polywell Computers posted details of a rack server with dual Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) on its Web site Monday, although the clock speed of the new chips and the price of the server are still undetermined. By Monday afternoon, the information had been removed from Polywell's site.

The PolyRaxx server is a 1U (1.75 inches) box with two 64-bit Opteron processors, according to the information that had been posted. It is based on the AMD-8000 chipset, which uses HyperTransport interconnect technology in a PCI-X (peripheral component interconnect -- extended) bridge, an I/O hub, and an AGP3.0 graphics tunnel. HyperTransport is an interconnect technology used to move data at speeds up to 12.8G bytes per second between integrated circuits on a processor. Dual Gigabit Ethernet is used to connect the server to a company's internal network.

The server uses up to 16G bytes of ECC (error-correcting code) DDR333 (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), with up to four DIMMs (dual inline memory modules) per processor. DDR333 memory moves data into the memory chip at 333MHz.

Several operating systems will be offered with the server, including Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 Server (service pack 3), .Net Server (release candidate 1), and the 64-bit beta version of .Net Server. A 32-bit Linux operating system from Red Hat Inc. and a beta 64-bit version from SuSE Linux AG will also be available.

AMD's Hammer architecture, which is the backbone of the Opteron processor, allows users to run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications and operating systems designed for the x86 instruction set on the same chip. The x86 instruction set is used by virtually all desktop processors and some 32-bit server processors from Intel Corp. Other 64-bit processors, such as RISC (reduced instruction set computing) processors from Sun Microsystems Inc. or Intel's Itanium 2, use a different instruction set and require users to recompile 32-bit applications if they want to run older software.

The PolyRaxx server will compete against servers with Intel's 32-bit Xeon processor. Intel controls a far greater portion of the x86-instruction set server market than AMD, so AMD will try to convince IT managers to try out less expensive two-way and four-way servers with Opteron processors before selling them larger servers that will compete with Intel's Itanium 2 processor, according to analysts.

However, Sandia National Laboratories has already hired Cray Inc. to design the world's fastest supercomputer using several thousand Opteron processors.

Pricing information for the two-way PolyRaxx server was not immediately available, and Polywell, based in South San Francisco, California, did not disclose the clock speeds of the processors on its Web site. The company was unavailable for comment Monday.

The Opteron launch is expected in March or April, according to remarks made by AMD's Chief Financial Officer Robert Rivet during the Sunnyvale, California, company's fourth-quarter earnings conference call.

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