Analyst: x86 systems closing the gap on RISC

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Analyst: x86 systems closing the gap on RISC

Ideas International predicts spike in x86 server performance.

Analyst group Ideas International has predicted bullish performance improvements from a raft of new x86 server processors coming onto the market from Intel and AMD.

Intel announced its 32-nanometre 5600 series of chips late last night, whilst AMD's six core Opteron chip was released late last year.

Later this year, Intel is expected to release an 8-core Nehalem-EX chip - for which IBM has already expressed huge hopes - while AMD is reportedly working on a platform codenamed Magny-Cours with up to 12 cores per chip.

Tony Iams, senior analyst for Ideas International [pictured], said that the trend is for industry standard x86 servers to take on more of the workloads of applications usually reserved for mid-range or mainframe systems from the likes of IBM and Oracle/Sun.

Displaying a chart [below] showing the maximum server performance of x86 and RISC-based platforms by year of release, x86 servers appeared to have been making significant gains on RISC since the turn of the millenium, coming within one third of the processing power of its larger cousin in 2008.

click to view full size image
Ideas International

While RISC-based systems made gains in 2009, Ideas expects 2010 to see x86 narrow the gap again.

"We are at a pivotal point in time," Iams said. "While no official data is yet published on Nehalem EX, we expect its advances will increase the rate of improvement of x86 such that it far surpasses the improvement in performance in RISC-based systems.

"We would anticipate an increase in performancer of x86 systems released in 2010 that is far more than the dip in the gap [between x86 and RISC] in 2009," he said.

The x86 platform, he said, "continues to encroach very rapidly on the capacity of RISC-based systems." The x86 systems "are being used for even the most business critical workloads," he said.

Iams said that the step-change in the corporate market is the way in which x86 machines are being used as a pool to "scale out" - addressing the scalability and reliability requirements of business critical workloads.

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