"We see more evaluations taking place of our new processor than we've seen since the dual-core Opteron first came out," says Vlad Rozanovich, director, Americas commercial business for AMD, of the chip manufacturer's Magny-Cours launch today. Rozanovich stopped by our office this afternoon to tell us about the new processor and why he says it's of interest to banks. "Banking is one of the few industries where CIOs care about hardware decisions," he added. Large banks spend billions on technology, so such decisions mean much more to them than to other groups.The 6100 series Magny-Cours processors contain eight or 12 cores (actually two four- or eight-core processors baked onto one chip) and they come with more memory and memory controllers than previous generations of AMD chips. More memory better managed means data used by applications can move faster and latency decrease, which explains why the chip is named after a Formula One race course. Each Magny-Cours processor can accommodate up to 24 dual in-line memory modules, which means they can access up to 256 gigabytes of main memory. Faster data processing speeds are of obvious benefit to financial firms' algorithmic trading and price modeling applications.
But Rozanovich says banks are also interested in applying the 6100 series toward virtual desktops. Where in many cases, switching to virtual desktop appliances that cost $600 or so doesn't provide enough of a cost savings to interest bank executives, when a four-socket server can hold 48 cores the economics make more sense. That's because the typical installation cost per server is $1,200 to $2,000, Rozanovich says. If each core of a 48-core server is tied to a virtual machine, the cost of installing each virtual server is reduced drastically.
HP, Dell, Acer Group, Cray, and SGI are introducing new servers based on Magny-Cours.
Rozanovich expects many large companies to conduct server refreshes this year, he says, because "Gartner said 2009 was the year of the non-refresh." Companies on a four-year cycle now have five-year-old equipment and are past due for server purchases.