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Commoditization of 4-way

Discussion in 'Intel' started by Yousuf Khan, May 18, 2004.

  1. Yousuf Khan

    Yousuf Khan Guest

    I know there is a little bit of skepticism (well actually a lot of it) about
    x86's potential in the 4-way market. The high-end server market has feasted
    on the high prices due to the lack of competition from any commodity systems
    at this level. There's been talk for years that Intel is finally going to
    make something real for the 4-way systems. It's hasn't happened yet. But it
    may be finally starting now. Opterons are the real deal now.

    The following article expects that AMD will take the price of 4-way systems
    down from an average of $10,000 to $5000 by next year. And customers seem to
    be responding. Some of the smaller OEMs are seeing a demand shift towards
    AMD systems, ranging from 40% to 100% AMD at some server makers. And they're
    all getting ready to pound Dell, which won't be able to match these systems.
    But really the more long term effect will not be the one against Dell, but
    the one against the big-iron boys who will see one of their most profitable
    segments disappear into the sea of commoditization.

    http://www.crn.com/sections/coverstory/coverstory.asp?ArticleID=50198

    Yousuf Khan

    --
    Humans: contact me at ykhan at rogers dot com
    Spambots: just send mail to above address ;-)
    Yousuf Khan, May 18, 2004
    #1
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  2. In article <hFiqc.60030$>,
    Yousuf Khan <> wrote:

    >The following article expects that AMD will take the price of 4-way systems
    >down from an average of $10,000 to $5000 by next year.


    The price of a 4-way system is not much over $5000 *now*, isn't it?
    $1700 for the Tyan board, $2800 for four Opteron 844's, $250 for a chassis,
    and, well, you get one SATA disc and only one of the Opterons gets any memory
    with the change from $5000.

    If I had anything resembling a business plan, I'd be tempted to get something
    like the system above, but if I'm spending UKP3000 I think a second-hand
    Smartcar would be more fun.

    I wonder if AMD will drop the Opteron 840 price enormously at some stage;
    4 x 1400MHz with separate memory to each processor isn't bad for, say, a
    shell-account machine.

    Tom
    Thomas Womack, May 18, 2004
    #2
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  3. "Yousuf Khan" <> wrote in message
    news:hFiqc.60030$...
    > I know there is a little bit of skepticism (well actually a lot of it)

    about
    > x86's potential in the 4-way market. The high-end server market has

    feasted
    > on the high prices due to the lack of competition from any commodity

    systems
    > at this level. There's been talk for years that Intel is finally going to
    > make something real for the 4-way systems. It's hasn't happened yet. But

    it
    > may be finally starting now. Opterons are the real deal now.


    Intel's antiquated FSB design means 4-way (and up) systems require
    specialized chipsets to avoid bottlenecks, and the low volume of these
    chipsets means higher prices which leads back to low volume.

    Opteron's scalability using glueless HT for SMP is turning the 4-way market
    on its head, and probably the 8-way market as well once people figure out
    how to cram that many CPUs and memory slots into a starndard-sized system.

    S

    --
    Stephen Sprunk "Stupid people surround themselves with smart
    CCIE #3723 people. Smart people surround themselves with
    K5SSS smart people who disagree with them." --Aaron Sorkin
    Stephen Sprunk, May 18, 2004
    #3
  4. Fresh from an Iraqi prisoner interrogation Thomas Womack
    <> smirked:

    >The price of a 4-way system is not much over $5000 *now*, isn't it?
    >$1700 for the Tyan board,


    Where did you find a price? I can't locate ANYONE that has that MB available.

    >$2800 for four Opteron 844's,


    Not even listed on Pricewatch now, 842s and 846s are though.

    >and, well, you get one SATA disc and only one of the Opterons gets any memory
    >with the change from $5000.


    Hmmm, less than $200 to cover memory and 'other things'.
    I think you're going over $6K by a decent margin for working system.






    To reply by email, remove the XYZ.

    Lumber Cartel (tinlc) #2063. Spam this account at your own risk.

    This sig censored by the Office of Home and Land Insecurity....
    Never anonymous Bud, May 18, 2004
    #4
  5. Yousuf Khan

    Guest

    On 18 May 2004 20:23:23 +0100 (BST), Thomas Womack
    <> wrote:

    >In article <hFiqc.60030$>,
    >Yousuf Khan <> wrote:
    >
    >>The following article expects that AMD will take the price of 4-way systems
    >>down from an average of $10,000 to $5000 by next year.

    >
    >The price of a 4-way system is not much over $5000 *now*, isn't it?
    >$1700 for the Tyan board, $2800 for four Opteron 844's, $250 for a chassis,
    >and, well, you get one SATA disc and only one of the Opterons gets any memory
    >with the change from $5000.
    >
    >If I had anything resembling a business plan, I'd be tempted to get something
    >like the system above, but if I'm spending UKP3000 I think a second-hand
    >Smartcar would be more fun.
    >
    >I wonder if AMD will drop the Opteron 840 price enormously at some stage;
    >4 x 1400MHz with separate memory to each processor isn't bad for, say, a
    >shell-account machine.
    >
    >Tom

    IMHO, it borders a crime not to outfit all 4 Opterons with the memory
    in such a highest end system. And then, I have not seen a quad box
    that didn't have a nice SCSI RAID (at least 3 disks in RAID 5 config).
    Only the RAM (4 GB in 8 516 MB sticks of PC400 DDR ECC Registered) is
    near $1000 ($122 for each - the lowest on PW). As for the price for
    SCSI RAID solution, the sky is the limit.
    Yet, the price point may be reached if we believe Mr. Ruiz on dual
    core chips getting ready by next year. In this case, every dual board
    will be capable to effectively host a quad system (and it will be true
    SMP, not just hyperthreading!). Dual boards are already close to
    $200, and probably will only get cheaper by next year.
    , May 18, 2004
    #5
  6. Yousuf Khan

    Rob Stow Guest

    Never anonymous Bud wrote:

    > Fresh from an Iraqi prisoner interrogation Thomas Womack
    > <> smirked:
    >
    >
    >>The price of a 4-way system is not much over $5000 *now*, isn't it?
    >>$1700 for the Tyan board,

    >
    >
    > Where did you find a price? I can't locate ANYONE that has that MB available.


    $1545 at Lynn Computer, up from $1495 a couple of weeks ago.
    They are taking orders only - no stock yet.
    http://www.lynncomp.com

    >
    >
    >>$2800 for four Opteron 844's,

    >
    >
    > Not even listed on Pricewatch now, 842s and 846s are though.


    $750 at Lynn, down from $9xx.


    >
    >
    >>and, well, you get one SATA disc and only one of the Opterons gets any memory
    >>with the change from $5000.

    >
    >
    > Hmmm, less than $200 to cover memory and 'other things'.
    > I think you're going over $6K by a decent margin for working system.


    Even a $6K, that is half the price of a basic 4-way Opty 840
    system from the vendors that actually have something to sell.
    Now if only I could get that percentage saving when building
    my own desktop ...
    Rob Stow, May 18, 2004
    #6
  7. Fresh from an Iraqi prisoner interrogation Rob Stow <>
    smirked:

    >Even a $6K, that is half the price of a basic 4-way Opty 840
    >system from the vendors that actually have something to sell.


    Well, as you already said, the MB you mentioned isn't even
    available to end-users.

    Add in that I said MORE than $6K, plus the time and effort it
    takes to put such a beast together and get it running, and
    $10K isn't that much of a leap.

    When I can get a 4-way Opty MB for about $500, and the
    CPUs for about $350 apiece, I'll consider the price almost
    in my range.





    To reply by email, remove the XYZ.

    Lumber Cartel (tinlc) #2063. Spam this account at your own risk.

    This sig censored by the Office of Home and Land Insecurity....
    Never anonymous Bud, May 18, 2004
    #7
  8. In article <>,
    <> wrote:
    >On 18 May 2004 20:23:23 +0100 (BST), Thomas Womack
    ><> wrote:
    >
    >>In article <hFiqc.60030$>,
    >>Yousuf Khan <> wrote:
    >>
    >>>The following article expects that AMD will take the price of 4-way systems
    >>>down from an average of $10,000 to $5000 by next year.

    >>
    >>The price of a 4-way system is not much over $5000 *now*, isn't it?
    >>$1700 for the Tyan board, $2800 for four Opteron 844's, $250 for a chassis,
    >>and, well, you get one SATA disc and only one of the Opterons gets any memory
    >>with the change from $5000.
    >>
    >>If I had anything resembling a business plan, I'd be tempted to get something
    >>like the system above, but if I'm spending UKP3000 I think a second-hand
    >>Smartcar would be more fun.
    >>
    >>I wonder if AMD will drop the Opteron 840 price enormously at some stage;
    >>4 x 1400MHz with separate memory to each processor isn't bad for, say, a
    >>shell-account machine.
    >>
    >>Tom

    >IMHO, it borders a crime not to outfit all 4 Opterons with the memory
    >in such a highest end system.


    Well, of course; a more sensible system won't leave much change from
    $7000, since you probably do want 4GB of memory and 15krpm SCSI
    RAID. It's still cheaper than manufacturer-guaranteed second-hand
    cars, and deeply cheaper than any new car in the UK. It's probably
    too *loud* to have as a desktop, even if I could think of desktop
    tasks for which such a behemoth would be sane.

    I'm not sure I'd call a system with two dual-core CPUs a quad system,
    though I'm not quite sure where that prejudice comes from; I suppose
    that part of the issue of a quad system is the enormous motherboard
    required physically to fit four sockets, four cooling systems, four
    sets of memory ... on memory-intensive tasks I think I'd rather have
    more memory subsystems than more cores, dual-core Opterons will be no
    less memory-starved than 800MHz FSB Noconas.

    Tom
    Thomas Womack, May 18, 2004
    #8
  9. Yousuf Khan

    myren, lord Guest

    the big steps towards 4 way will be the incoming motherboard
    technologies. the processors have only a marignal role here.

    fb-ram and pci-express, together, represent the greatest enabler of 4
    way or better technologies. fb-ram will enable far less pins with far
    less demanding specifications for those huge banks of ram hanging off
    your processors: and advantage only compounded by a direct to cpu
    connection. pci-express by its serial nature allows for further
    simplification of a overgrowing pci bus, as well as, iirc, longer signal
    paths.

    although opteron has eliminated the massively expensive switching
    responsibility of the motherboard, it poses new challenges of feeding
    four processors ram and i/o. the current technologies use gi-normous
    amounts of channels to accomplish this. when fb-ram and pci-express
    come out, the number of paths and the tolerances for these paths should
    be improved by an order of magntiude. it is only when everyone and
    their mother can cook up a new motherboard design from cheap parts that
    we will see the rediuculous 4-way margins slowly be eatten away. you
    can bet the current big boys will be fighting against this
    commoditization as hard as they can.

    opteron is amazing in that it has its switching technology built in via
    ht. when it comes out natively supporting fb-ram in another year and a
    half, then we will see a dawn of the new four way systems.
    myren, lord, May 19, 2004
    #9
  10. Yousuf Khan

    Yousuf Khan Guest

    myren, lord wrote:
    > fb-ram and pci-express, together, represent the greatest enabler of 4
    > way or better technologies. fb-ram will enable far less pins with far
    > less demanding specifications for those huge banks of ram hanging off
    > your processors: and advantage only compounded by a direct to cpu
    > connection. pci-express by its serial nature allows for further
    > simplification of a overgrowing pci bus, as well as, iirc, longer
    > signal paths.


    FBRAM has yet to prove itself (or even come out).

    Hypertransport allows one to do something even more performance oriented for
    the overgrowing PCI bus than PCI-E. It allows you to hang multiple PCI buses
    directly off of separate processors, load balancing the load and
    partitioning the data off in a way.

    Yousuf Khan
    Yousuf Khan, May 19, 2004
    #10
  11. > opteron is amazing in that it has its switching technology built in via ht.

    Yawn - the 21364 had that how many years ago? Oh yes, and all the transputers
    had a programmeable memory interface on-chip. Glue logic? We need no stinkin'
    glue logic!

    Jan
    =?ISO-8859-1?Q?Jan_Vorbr=FCggen?=, May 19, 2004
    #11
  12. "Jan Vorbr├╝ggen" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > > opteron is amazing in that it has its switching technology built in via

    ht.
    >
    > Yawn - the 21364 had that how many years ago? Oh yes, and all the

    transputers
    > had a programmeable memory interface on-chip. Glue logic? We need no

    stinkin'
    > glue logic!


    True, but AFAIK the K8 was the first chip with a non-negligible market share
    to
    have such features.

    Nothing is new under the sun, not even when the Alpha did whatever is
    currently being discussed. Making innovation _profitable_ is arguably more
    important than bringing it to market first and then going under, because the
    former leads to permanent change and the latter is just fodder for
    comp.arch.

    S

    --
    Stephen Sprunk "Stupid people surround themselves with smart
    CCIE #3723 people. Smart people surround themselves with
    K5SSS smart people who disagree with them." --Aaron Sorkin
    Stephen Sprunk, May 19, 2004
    #12
  13. Yousuf Khan

    myren, lord Guest


    > FBRAM has yet to prove itself (or even come out).


    This is true. Whether its FBRAM or the next technology is in question.
    What is certain is that RAM presents a significant design challenge
    for motherboard builders in terms of signal integrity and simple volume
    of routing.

    > Hypertransport allows one to do something even more performance oriented for
    > the overgrowing PCI bus than PCI-E. It allows you to hang multiple PCI buses
    > directly off of separate processors, load balancing the load and
    > partitioning the data off in a way.


    I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to be how we'll start seeing
    multiple x16 pci-e links for multi-display systems. I'm scared we
    havent seen anyone advertising multiple graphics links.

    Yes, the I/O bandwidth to feed these processors is essential, but a
    fibre array does the job well enough across pci 66/64. the ability to
    pipe network data every which way is extremely fun, but non essential.

    Although this is certainly useful and advantageous, the fact of the
    matter is that having multiple pci busses will not /initially/ be a
    major factor in making 4 way systems cheaper, in commoditizing the
    market. The main limitation as it stands is $3000 motherboards. When
    someone kicks out an order of magnitude cheaper because they can and
    because its simple, then we'll come back to the virtues of HT and the
    multiple pci busses it can provide.

    The problem is that until this event happens ($300 quad mobo), system
    builders can make boards as cheap as they please or utilizing all the
    excess amounts of HT glory they want, but they'll always charge $2000+
    because sales would not differ signficantly from $1000. The market is
    defined as high end servers, so presumably the customer is going to be
    paying through the nose for 15k scsi raid and all those other goodies,
    $1000 on a mobo here or there is nothing. When $300 quad comes out, the
    tune changes a lot. Quad is suddenly considerable for web clusters.

    I'd wager to define commoditization as the threshold where mainstream
    enthusiasts (a contradiction in terms if i ever heard one) consider
    building 4 way systems.

    Myren
    myren, lord, May 19, 2004
    #13
  14. Yousuf Khan

    Mitch Alsup Guest

    Jan Vorbr├╝ggen <> wrote in message news:<>...
    > > opteron is amazing in that it has its switching technology built in via ht.

    >
    > Yawn - the 21364 had that how many years ago?
    > Jan


    And how many did they sell?
    Mitch Alsup, May 19, 2004
    #14
  15. Yousuf Khan

    Mitch Alsup Guest

    "myren, lord" <> wrote in message news:<c8em94$cm7$>...
    >
    > fb-ram and pci-express, together, represent the greatest enabler of 4
    > way or better technologies. fb-ram will enable far less pins with far
    > less demanding specifications for those huge banks of ram hanging off
    > your processors: and advantage only compounded by a direct to cpu
    > connection. pci-express by its serial nature allows for further
    > simplification of a overgrowing pci bus, as well as, iirc, longer signal
    > paths.


    FB-RAM pins operate in the 2.5GHz to 6GHz range. Anybody who thinks
    a simple protocal makes operating at these pin speed easy should pass
    the pipe.

    Second, the push for FBDIMM is to enable even larger memory systems
    not to save a few pins. With FBDIMM, an opteron can go from 8 DDR-II
    DIMMs to 32 FBDIMMs using a similar number of pins. This allows even
    larger memories to be built and capture ever more of the footprint
    of the database applications.

    PCI-express brings little to the party that HT does not already
    bring except that Intel is pushing it rather than AMD.
    Mitch Alsup, May 19, 2004
    #15
  16. Yousuf Khan

    Del Cecchi Guest

    "Mitch Alsup" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    snip
    > PCI-express brings little to the party that HT does not already
    > bring except that Intel is pushing it rather than AMD.


    PCI-Express doesn't crash and burn on an error.

    del cecchi
    Del Cecchi, May 19, 2004
    #16
  17. Yousuf Khan

    Stephen Fuld Guest

    "Mitch Alsup" <> wrote in message
    news:...

    snip

    > PCI-express brings little to the party that HT does not already
    > bring except that Intel is pushing it rather than AMD.


    And the fact that it preserves the investment in software of lots and lots
    of PCI drivers that exist today. Preserving that investment was one of the
    reasons that the Intel desktop people decided they wanted to do PCI Express
    rather than sign on to IB.

    --
    - Stephen Fuld
    e-mail address disguised to prevent spam
    Stephen Fuld, May 19, 2004
    #17
  18. Yousuf Khan

    myren, lord Guest

    i thought intel was one of the infiniband people too. infiniband and
    pci-e arent mutually exlcusive technologies by any means.

    parents said amd wasnt a fan of pci-e. are they designing any competition?
    myren, lord, May 19, 2004
    #18
  19. Yousuf Khan

    Andi Kleen Guest

    "Stephen Fuld" <> writes:
    >
    > And the fact that it preserves the investment in software of lots and lots
    > of PCI drivers that exist today. Preserving that investment was one of the
    > reasons that the Intel desktop people decided they wanted to do PCI Express
    > rather than sign on to IB.


    Seen from the software (not firmware) side HT is basically completely PCI
    compatible. I don't know of any visible differences. The north
    bridge on a Opteron system is implemented in the CPU and e.g. all the
    PCI config accesses originate from the north bridge. But the request
    has to travel over an HT link before it can actually talk to an real
    PCI bridge. This works completely transparent.

    For the OS it looks like any other x86 compatible PCI PC. Of course
    on basically every other modern x86 "PCI" chipset there is some kind
    of non PCI link involved in such an operation; an HT system is not very
    different e.g. from a typical Intel based system.

    The only software that really knows about HT is the firmware that has
    to set up the routing. But even on an "pure PCI" system this is
    completely chipset dependent black magic and not standardized at all.

    As far as I can see the main difference in practice right now is that
    there is a PCI-E connector and there isn't one for HT. And the error
    handling issues Del noted (hopefully be fixed with HT 2.x)
    Ok and HT hotplug would be nice too.

    -Andi
    Andi Kleen, May 19, 2004
    #19
  20. Yousuf Khan

    Greg Lindahl Guest

    In article <>,
    Andi Kleen <> wrote:

    >As far as I can see the main difference in practice right now is that
    >there is a PCI-E connector and there isn't one for HT.


    But there is a candidate for one -- if anyone is interested, I can put
    you in touch with the people involved.

    -- greg
    Greg Lindahl, May 19, 2004
    #20
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