As AMD plans a return to x86 server prominence, Data center server buyers will soon have a new choice for software-defined and high-performance data analysis workloads.
“Server users and OEMs want an alternative to Intel, if only to put competitive pressure on Intel for technology innovation,” said Nathan Brookwood, research fellow at Insight 64 in Saratoga, Calif. AMD is the only company other than Intel and Via Technologies that can legally build x86 processors.
The share of data center servers based on AMD chips has shrunken considerably since the company once held about a quarter of that space. In 2006, AMD estimated its server processor market share in the high 20% range. By 2013, analyst firm Gartner put it in single digits.
Analysts say AMD took some wrong turns with data center offerings, including a foray into the server business with SeaMicro that it will shutter in 2015, and a socket-compatible ARM and x86 design — Skybridge — that lacked enough end-user support to get off the ground. The company also failed to develop a roadmap that was competitive with Intel, which contributed to the Wintel (Intel-powered, Windows OS servers) domination in today’s enterprises.”I don’t see users abandoning Intel very quickly,” said Charles King, principal analyst of Pund-IT in Hayward, Calif. “Intel has delivered on product innovation and has a clear roadmap ahead at least down to 10nm and probably below that.”
AMD representatives also stressed that software and hardware partnerships will further develop its chip architectures. This is a call for openness that IBM also has pursued, by open-sourcing its Power chip architecture, King said.