AMD bangs virtual green drum

By on

AMD once had 135 servers crunching data for its Austin Texas HQ. Now, having virtualised the lot using VMware's virtualisation software it has cut that number to just seven.

The move resulted in 79 per cent power savings, Margaret Lewis, AMD director of commercial solutions* and software strategy told the INQ this week.

Isn't virtualisation bad news for a chip maker? we wondered. If seven servers can do the same job as 135 did before, doesn't that mean you'll sell fewer chips? Lewis claimed that the move means that firms that virtualise will be able to deploy the spare capacity to do other things. We were unable to pin down what these might be, however.

AMD reckons its multi-cored Opteronic architecture is the best choice for virtualised environments because virtualisation is memory intensive. AMD's Direct Connect architecture allows all CPUs to access all memory blocks in the system, so it is much more flexible than "other" architectures, Lewis claimed.

The firm is plugging its virtualisation prowess. Lewis said its new Rapid Virtualisation Indexing technology means much of the memory handling in a virtualised environment becomes a hardware function, lessening reliance on software for complex memory handling.

Lewis wouldn't be drawn on which software virtualiser virtualises the best, but delivered a long list of companies with which AMD had worked to optimise Opteron's virtual credentials.

Last of these was Microsoft, and Lewis did look a bit sheepish when delivering the M-word, but that may have been because of some perception that we're open sauce evangelists here at the INQ.

But we did happen to notice that when four-core Barcelona was finally delivered it came with an ad. campaign sponsored by Microsoft, which is playing virtual catch-up with year.

Indeed, no sooner had we left Lewis's warm presence than Microsoft had delivered its Hyper-V-ole software. Hmm. There may be a perception that Microsoft will take over the whole virtualisation world, but that's not going to happen, said Lewis. But it will certainly have a go.

Along with any discussion of virtualisation comes a discussion of that oxymoron, Green IT. Lewis is shrewd enough not to tell the INQ that AMD is concerned with saving the planet.

What she does claim is that the firm lucked out because it was concerned with delivering lower-power server chips some time before the IT world went green propaganda bonkers.

Green talk has taken off big time over the past two and a half years, she says. Luckily AMD was bragging about delivering future Opterons in the same power envelope back in April 2003 - when it, "wasn't trendy to be green."

The storm came, she said, when energy prices shot up.

Economics is all about of scarcity. No firm is going to go "green" unless it saves or makes (through good PR) money. But when the costs of powering and cooling a server farm or data centre shoot through the roof, that's when more efficient chips and software solutions become flavour of the month. Luckily for AMD, the economics of scarcity mean energy prices are never going to go down again.

"Green also stands for efficiency, said Lewis. "Performance comes at a price and today customers are less concerned with raw performance, they now ask how much it costs. (...) This comes along with the realisation that we may be harming ourselves if we don't actually go green. "

* In charge of the drinks machine...?
Got a news tip for our journalists? Share it with us anonymously here. (c) 2010 Incisive Media

Most Read Articles

You must be a registered member of iTnews to post a comment.
| Register

Log In

Username / Email:
  |  Forgot your password?