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AMD unveils Open Compute motherboard for tailor-made servers

17 Jan 2013

AMD has announced its Open 3.0 motherboard platform, designed to give IT professionals the ability to "right-size" servers to better meet their specific compute requirements.

Both AMD and rival Intel have been working on the Open Compute Project started by Facebook back in 2011, but AMD has become the first major vendor to ship a motherboard developed out of the Open Compute specifications, launched at the Open Compute Summit in Santa Clara.

AMD's Open 3.0 motherboard, previously known as Roadrunner, is a twin-socket motherboard that supports its latest Opteron 6300 series chips.

As the firm is touting a wide range of configurations for its Open 3.0 motherboard, the twin CPU sockets are about the only common features among many variants that include support for up to 24 memory slots, five PCI-Express (PCIe) expansion slots, dual gigabit Ethernet ports and six Sata connectors for disks.

But the Open Compute Project is about much more than just motherboards and so AMD is also making available four sizes of chassis, comprising 1U, 1.5U, 2U and 3U options. The firm said these use standard power supplies as defined by the Open Compute standard.

According to Suresh Gopalakrishnan, AMD's general manager of server operations, the firm is already sampling pre-production boards to selected customers, with production units expected to be available by the end of this quarter.

AMD has been working with several vendors on manufacturing the motherboards, and also signed up Avnet and Penguin Computing as system integrators.

According to Gopalakrishnan, the advantage of Open Compute is not necessarily access to new motherboard designs but the ability to buy kit from multiple vendors that supports common maintenance software and procedures.

With Open Compute servers designed to be deployed in large volumes, the ability to easily configure and manage kit is very high on a server administrator's list of priorities.

Servers based on the Open Compute specifications can be used for more than powering the cloud, with applications including high performance computing and high capacity storage servers.

Gopalakrishnan said the wide range of use cases came from the ability to configure an Open 3.0 motherboard in a number of different ways, and believes this could open up new markets for AMD.

With Intel's Xeon chips representing close to 90 percent of the server market, AMD needed to steal a march on its rival.

Intel, however, knows it is in a strong position and can wait a bit longer before showing its own Open Compute products.

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