IntegratorToolbox: Baby steps are best when switching to 64-bit

Hewlett-Packard is among the companies with servers for both AMD and Intel chips: the Opteron ProLiant DL145 (top) and (below) the Xeon ProLiant DL360.

The best thing about migrating to 64-bit computing might be that you don't have to do it in one great leap. A new class of dual-processor servers using Opteron and Xeon chips lets you make the move incrementally.

Servers with the new Opterons from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., or Xeons from Intel Corp. offer simultaneous support for 32-bit and 64-bit applications. This can mean a lot if you want to move up to 64-bit computing but, because of high costs or limited staff, need to continue using legacy 32-bit operating systems and applications.

Clearly, 64-bit computing offers advantages. In the case of system memory, for example, all 64-bit processor architectures incorporate direct access to almost limitless RAM; 32-bit processors have a limit of 4G. And the data paths of 64-bit processors are twice as wide as those of 32-bit processors, so they can manipulate twice the data in the same clock cycle.

Dual-processor systems such as those in the chart will let you retain 32-bit applications in a mixed environment until it becomes cost-effective to move to an all 64-bit environment.

Servers based on dual Opterons or Xeons are relatively new. Advanced Micro Devices released the first Opteron in 2003, getting the jump on Intel, which had been concentrating on the Itanium 2, a full 64-bit series designed to compete with high-end RISC 32/64-bit processors. Intel finally came forth with the dual-processor Xeon last year.

Unlike conventional processor designs, AMD's Direct Connect Architecture lets the Opteron CPU connect directly to system input and output. AMD argues that this design overcomes the throughput bottlenecks inherent in bus-based connections between the CPU and input and output.

The Opteron design allows support for up to three coherent HyperTransport links, providing peak bandwidth per processor of up to 19.2 Gbps, or 6.4 Gbps per link.

The Opteron's huge 256T memory address space creates a significant performance benefit for applications in which large or many data sets are held in memory, according to AMD.

Intel's answer to the Opteron was the new Xeon processor with an 800-MHz bus. Like the Opteron, it supports both 32-bit and 64-bit applications and comes in a variety of models with speeds of up to 3.6 GHz.

With features such as HyperThreading, Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T) and the fast system bus, Intel is positioning the new Xeon to occupy a perch just beneath its 64-bit Itanium processor line in terms of power and performance.

HyperThreading increases processor efficiency by providing thread-level parallelism. EM64T technology permits running of Xeon platforms in three modes:

Legacy Mode, which supports the running of 32-bit operating systems and applications

Compatibility Mode, which lets 64-bit operating systems interact with 32-bit or 16-bit applications

Full 64-bit Mode, in which maximum extended memory performance is required for 64-bit OSes and applications.

The chart focuses on rackmount designs, as their flexibility makes them more appealing to IT departments exploring the 32-bit and 64-bit computing environment.

With the notable exception of Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc. and IBM Corp., few mainstream server vendors have incorporated the Opteron into their product lines.

Dell Inc. has expressed interest in the 32/64-bit technology but has yet to commit to development of an Opteron product line.

Sun recently announced that its new SunV20z servers, powered by two 2.4-GHz Model 250 processors running Solaris, is shattering records and delivering breakthrough price and performance for databases, application servers, Web servers, compilers and more.

Hewlett-Packard also is testing the Opteron waters with its new ProLiant DL145, a 1U rackmount server.

And IBM recently unveiled its eServer 326, a 1U rackmount chassis system.

A growing number of online vendors will let you configure your Opteron server online. On the Xeon side, the story is similar. Most mainstream companies will let you buy preconfigured versions of these servers, or will help you configure them to your own specifications and liking.

And as with Opteron servers, a growing list of second- and third-tier vendors will help you configure and design your own Xeon server. If you go this route, just be sure to check out the vendor's track record, reputation, repair and service record before signing on the dotted line. n


J.B. Miles writes from Honomu, Hawaii. E-mail him at jbmiles@starband.net.



LOWDOWN


What are they? AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon processors support a new category of servers capable of simultaneously handling both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems and applications.


What's the advantage? They can help you save money by letting you retain 32-bit legacy applications while you move gradually into 64-bit computing.


What are their drawbacks? If you can afford them, none.


What's next? AMD expects to advance toward full 64-bit computing with a midsummer release of Opteron x86 dual-core processors. The dual-core design, which directly connects the processors, memory controller and I/O to the CPU, helps eliminate bottlenecks inherent in a front-side bus architecture, according to the company.


Must-know info? By increasing processing speed and allowing access to nearly unlimited RAM, Opteron and Xeon servers offer a cost-effective entry into 64-bit computing.



32/64-bit Opteron and Xeon servers give you a foot in both worlds













































































































































Company ProductDescription
AMD Opteron Servers
Adamant Computers Inc.
Cleveland
800-236-3550
www.adamant.com
Adamant 45111U rackmount, up to two 200 series Opteron processors, 1G PC 3200 ECC RAM, dual 80G SATA hard drive (supports up to 4 hard drives), built-in RAID 0, 1, 10 controller, 24X CD-ROM drive, ATI Rage XL 8M graphics controller, dual 10/100/1000 Base-T Ethernet, one serial and two USB ports; $1,574 up
ASA Computers Inc.
Santa Clara, Calif.
408-654-2900
www.asaservers.com
2U Dual Opteron Server2U rackmount, one 2.2-GHz Opteron 240 processor (one open CPU socket), up to 16G RAM, floppy and CD-ROM drives, 36G SCSI hard drive, onboard SCSI controller, RAID 0 support, ATI Rage XL 8M graphics controller, two Gigabit LAN ports; $1,757 as configured
Aspect Computer Corp.
Somerset, N.J.
732-563-1304
www.aspectcomputer.com
Professional AMD Opteron 240
System
Tower, one 2.2-GHz Opteron processor, floppy and CD-ROM drives, optional tape backup systems, optional Seagate hard drives, RAID 0 controller; $3,989 up
Colfax International Inc.
Sunnyvale, Calif.
408-730-2275
www.colfax-intl.com
Tyan Transport TX46 Quad Opteron 2U Rackmount Server2U rackmount, one Opteron 850 processor (three CPU sockets open), 1G PC3200 ECC RAM, up to 32G of RAM, two hot-swap SCSI drive bays, four 64-bit PIC-X slots, one 32-bit PCI slot, integrated SCSI controller, onboard Gigabit Ethernet controller, ATI Rage XL 8M graphics controller; $4,881 as configured
Elite PC LLC
Tempe, Ariz.
480-317-0825
www.elitepc.com
Emperor 64-S Series Rackmount Server1U rackmount, one Opteron 250 2.4-GHz processor, 1G DDR PC 2700 RAM, SCSI RAID controller, 16 hard-drive bays, 24X CD-ROM and 1.44M floppy drives, integrated graphics controller, integrated dual Gigabit LAN controller; $3,276 as configured
Hewlett-Packard Co.
Palo Alto, Calif.
650-857-1501
www.hp.com
ProLiant DL1451U rackmount, one Opteron 250 2.4-GHz processor, 2G DDR PC2700 RAM, dual-channel Ultra 320 SCSI HBA storage controller, two 1-inch non-hot-swap Ultra 320 15,000-rpm hard drive (supports two), two integrated Gigabit Ethernet NICs; $3,817 as configured
IBM Corp.
Armonk, N.Y.
914-499-1900
www-1.ibm.com/servers
eServer 3261U rackmount, dual 2.4-GHz Opteron processors, 1G PC3200 ECC DDR RAM, two 80G SATA hard drives, CD-ROM drive, two 64-bit PCI-X slots, dual Gigabit Ethernet NICs, Ultra 320 SCSI controller; $5,766 as configured
Monarch Computer
Systems Inc.
Tucker, Ga.
800-611-0875
www.monarchcomputer.com

Empro 2U Custom Rack Server
2U rackmount, one Opteron 250 2.4-GHz processor, 1G PC2100 ECC RAM, one 80G 7,200-rpm hard drive (four drive bays total), optional RAID; $2,304 as configured
Empro 2U Custom Rack Server
New Technology Solutions Inc.
Lowell, Mass.
800-277-7657
www.ntsi.com
1U Dual Capable AMD Opteron Accelertech
Server
1U rackmount, two Opteron 240 processors, 1G PC2700 DDR RAM, one 80G 7,200-rpm hard drive (two 1.5-inch IDE drive bays available), CD-ROM and 1.44M floppy drives, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB ports, one serial and one parallel port, ATI XL 8M graphics controller; $4,050 as configured
Now Micro Inc.
Roseville, Minn.
651-631-9494
www.nowmicro.com
Frontier Opteron 2U-8xSCSI2U rackmount, one Opteron 248 processor, 1G DDR ECC/REG RAM, RAID controller, optional SCSI hard drives, 24X CD-ROM drive, onboard dual Gigabit Ethernet cards, onboard 8M graphics controller; $3,133 as configured
Penguin Computing Inc.
San Francisco
415-954-2800
www.penguincomputing.com
Altus 3250 Server3U rackmount, dual Opteron 250 2.4-GHz processors, 2G PC2700 ECC DDR RAM, one 73G 10,000-rpm hard drive (eight drive bays available), optional RAID, DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, dual integrated Gigabit Ethernet ports, three 64-bit PCI-X slots, integrated video controller, SUSE Linux Professional 9.1 and Red Hat Linux preloaded; $5,771 as configured
Sun Microsystems Inc.
Santa Clara, Calif.
650-960-1300
www.sun.com
Sun Fire V20z Server2U rackmount, dual Opteron 250 2.4-GHz processors, 4G RAM, one 73G 10,000-rpm hard drive, two Gigabit Ethernet NICs, one USB port, one serial port, two PCI-X slots, CD-ROM and 1.44M floppy drives, supports Solaris and Linux, with Windows HCL; $6,995 as configured
Xi Computer Corp.
San Clemente, Calif.
949-498-0858
www.xicomputer.com
NetRAIDer 64LTTower, one Opteron 240 2.2-GHz processor, 1G DDR 333MHz SDRAM RAM (expandable to 16G), dual Gigabit Ethernet NICs, two USB slots, onboard 4-channel SATA RAID controller, ATI Rage XL 8M graphics controller, six open drive bays, four internal bays, support for Windows Server and Red Hat Linux
Intel Xeon Servers
8aNet.com
Fremont, Calif.
510-226-6778
www.8anet.com
8X26SR 2U Rackmount2U rackmount, one Xeon 3.6-GHz processor, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, EM64T support, up to 16G RAM, U-320 RAID controller, ATI Rage XL 8M graphics controller, two SATA ports and dual ATA100 IDE channels, six SCSI hot-swap hard drive bays with SCSI backplane, one 5.25-inch drive bay, CD-ROM and 1.44M floppy drive; $2,705 as configured
Acmemicro Inc.
Fremont, Calif.
510-226-6778
www.acmemicro.com
SuperWorkstation 7034A-I Dual Xeon 800 NoconaTower, one Xeon 3.6-GHz processor, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, 1G PC2700 ECC RAM, two 64-bit PCI-X slots, two 32-bit PCI slots, one 16-bit PCI slot, Gigabit Ethernet controller, two serial SATA ports, four USB ports, Dual EIDE ports, four 3.5-inch hard-drive bays, two 5.25-inch hard-drive bays, 1.44M floppy drive, optional VGA video card; $1,965 as configured
Amax Information
Technologies
Fremont, Calif.
510-651-8886
www.amaxit.com
Rackplex 2U
7-bay Dual Xeon SCSI Server
2U rackmount, one Xeon 2.8-GHz processor, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache (optimized for two), 512M PC2700 ECC DDR RAM, dual-channel Ultra320/LVD SCSI controller, supports Host- RAID embedded SCSI striping (RAID 0 and 1), six hot-swap 3.5-inch drive bays, front bay for CD-ROM or floppy, two Gigabit Ethernet NICs, six 64-bit PCI-X slots, ATI Rage XL 8M graphics controller; $2,599 as configured
Dell Inc.
Round Rock, Texas
512-338-4400
www.dell.com
PowerEdge 28502U rackmount, one Xeon 3.6-GHz processor, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, EM64T support, 1G DDR2-400 RAM, embedded SCSI controller, 64-bit PCI-X support, one 73G 15,000-rpm Ultra 320 SCSI hard drive (six drive bays total), dual onboard Gigabit Ethernet NICs, 24X CD-ROM and 1.44M floppy drives, optional tape backup; $4,327 as configured
Electronic Nexus
Irvine, Calif.
877-773-5366
www.elnexus.com
Capella Power
2U Server
2U rackmount, dual Xeon 3.6-GHz processors, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, EM64T support, 1G DDR2-400 RAM, one 36G 10,000-rpm Ultra 320 SCSI hard drive (five remaining bays), onboard RAID, CD-ROM drive; $4,710 as configured
Fujitsu PC Corp.
Sunnyvale, Calif.
408-736-3300
www.computers.us.
fujitsu.com
Primergy
RX300 S2
2U rackmount, one or two Xeon processors, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, EM64T support, 1G to 16G PC3200 SDRAM RAM, CD-ROM and floppy drives, six 64-bit PCI-X slots, two PCI slots, dual-channel Ultra 320 SCSI controller, dual Gigabit Ethernet NICs, ATI Rage XL 8M graphics controller, onboard RAID controller
Gateway Inc.
Poway, Calif.
800-369-1409
www.gateway.com
9515 Series2U rackmount, dual Xeon processors, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, EM64T support, 8G DDR2 ECC RAM, dual-channel Ultra 320 SCSI controller with integrated RAID 0, 1 support, four 64-bit PCI-X slots, two PCI slots, dual Gigabit Ethernet NICs, ATI Rage XL 8M graphics controller; $1,499 up, depending on configuration
Hewlett-Packard Co.
Palo Alto, Calif.
650-857-1501
www.hp.com
ProLiant DL360 G41U rackmount, one Xeon 3.6-GHz processor, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, EM64T support, upgradeable PC2700 registered ECC DDR SDRAM RAM, two one-inch Ultra 320 SCSI hot-plug drive bays, Smart Array 6i Plus controller, dual Gigabit Ethernet NICs; $3,749 up, depending on configuration
IBM Corp.
Armonk, N.Y.
914-499-1900
www-1.ibm.com/servers
xSeries 3462U rackmount, dual Xeon 3.6-GHz processors, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, EM64T support, 2G PC3200 DDR2 SDRAM RAM, six hot-swap drive bays, four 64-bit PCI-X slots, 1.44M floppy drive, Gigabit Ethernet NIC, ATI Radeon 16M graphics controller; $6,386 as configured
Ion Computer Systems Inc.
Hauppauge, N.Y.
631-630-0600
www.ioncomputer.com
LN20J2U rackmount, dual Xeon 3.6-GHz processors, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, EM64T support, up to 16G ECC PC2700 memory, three internal drive bays, five hot-swap SATA drive bays, optional RAID, three 32-bit PCI slots, optional CD-ROM and floppy drives; $3,725 as configured
MG Electronics Inc.
Warrensville, Ohio
888-382-6664
www.mgepconline.com
Dual Xeon Entry-Level ServerBarebones tower, dual Xeon processors, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, EM64T support, optional RAID controller, up to six hot-swap IDE or SATA hard drives, optional CD-ROM and floppy drives, integrated Gigabit Ethernet NIC; $662 up, depending on configuration
NEC USA Inc.
Melville, N.Y.
631-753-7000
www.necusa.com
NEC Express5800i/120EgTower or 5U rackmount, dual Xeon 3.4-GHz processors, 800-MHz front-side bus w/1M cache, EM64T support, up to 8G DDR333 SDRAM RAM, standard onboard RAID 0, 1, up to six hot-plug Ultra 320 SCSI hard drives, one PCI Express slot, two 64-bit PCI-X slots, two 32-bit PCI slots
Silicon Mechanics Inc.
Seattle
206-352-1173
www.siliconmechanics.com
iServ R210 Custom2U rackmount, dual Xeon 3.6-GHz processors, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, up to 16G DDR2-400 ECC RAM, EM64T support, 1G three 64-bit PCI-X slots, one 74G 10,000-rpm SATA hard drive (six total drive bays), Dual Gigabit Ethernet NICs, CD-ROM and 1.44M floppy drives; $22,000 and up
Supermicro Computer Inc.
San Jose, Calif.
408-503-8000
www.Supermicro.com
SuperServer 6024H-82R2U rackmount, supports dual Xeon 3.6-GHz processors, 800-MHz front-side bus with 1M cache, EM64T support, up to 16G DDR2-400 SDRAM, two 64-bit PCI-X slots, one 32-bit PCI slot, dual-port Gigabit Ethernet controllers, six hot-swap Ultra 320 SCSI drive bays; $1,381 up, depending on configuration



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