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AMD Businesses IT

Dell Rejects AMD Chips (again) 353

LarsWestergren writes "A few months ago Slashdot reported that Dell was considering using AMD for server CPUs, but most people rightly remained sceptical since Dell has announced this several times before and always backed out. Well, according to the Register you were right to be sceptical." From the article: "Dell, however, doesn't seem concerned by these pricing issues or the fact that Opteron outperforms Xeon on numerous benchmarks. 'We believe that Intel has responded,' Rollins said in the wire report. 'That is now beginning to put customers more at ease that they don't need to make a shift (to AMD).'"
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Dell Rejects AMD Chips (again)

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  • by ABeowulfCluster ( 854634 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @05:20PM (#11789193)
    They'd have to actually track which chip goes in which board.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 26, 2005 @05:24PM (#11789228)
      maybe dell has used amd to leverage a better deal from intel. we've seen the same thing happen with linux/open source and microsoft. organisations announce they are considering the former until microsoft jumps in with massive price reductions.
      • by ppanon ( 16583 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @07:18PM (#11789994) Homepage Journal
        maybe dell has used amd to leverage a better deal from intel. we've seen the same thing happen with linux/open source and microsoft. organisations announce they are considering the former until microsoft jumps in with massive price reductions.
        The funny thing is that while that type of predatory-pricing anti-competitive behaviour would significantly hurt any other type of competition, it hurts Microsoft a lot more than it hurts Suse, Redhat, and other Linux vendors. Linux development will continue regardless, but by caving in with lowball bids, Microsoft is letting everyone else know that it's possible to get those deals if you can put up a believable bluff. It's hurting MS' future earnings and ability to pursue further R&D (aka aquisitions of promising ISVs). MS is in a war of attrition that they, while having a great headstart, are still bound to lose because, outside of Western Europe and N.A., switching to Linux isn't a bluff, it's an economic necessity.
  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 26, 2005 @05:21PM (#11789202)
    If Dell doesn't want to switch to a better product then the question then becomes "why not switch away from Dell?"
    • Re:Well (Score:5, Funny)

      by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @05:59PM (#11789450) Journal
      Well, as the other coward pointed out, you need to justify it. In triplicate. With change control forms sent out at least a year in advance citing exactly what make and model hardware you're going to buy, why you're going to make the switch, and how much this change will increase the stock price (to the quarter-point). Once the change control has been reviewed and rejected twice, the boss's brother's daughter's husband's nephew's wife's niece's brother-in-law will suggest the same thing, at which point he'll be promoted and the change control will be accepted "for review" at which point you'll need to purchase the new equipment out of your own budget ("sorry, we can't requisition new equipment for you until the change control process is complete") after which you will need to document in entirety the process of setting up and installing the kit, along with months of testing to prove that the applications will even run on this "AMD Thingy", then ensure that the applications will not crash on this "completely unknown" architecture. Then, two years later, you will have completed the change control process and your AMD computers will be put into production (being, a model from two years ago). And when your boss's wife's father's second cousin's child's sister-in-law's (who doesn't even work at this company!) computer BSoD's, your head will roll!
  • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @05:22PM (#11789211)

    In the '80s Intel sued AMD, twice, for producing 80386 compatible chips. The second time was for trademark infringement, essentially claiming that Intel owned the number '386'. One of the people testifying on behalf of Intel was Michael Dell.

    • Well, three, eight, and six consecutively is a pretty distinct pattern. I don't know about you tin-foil hatters out there, but '386' is unique enough to claim as a trademark.

      If you used three numbers to identify a major product of yours, wouldn't you be a little peeved if someone else was using it too?
      • He's not saying the trademark is without merit. He's saying Mr Dell is deep in Intel's pocket, and wont be cooperating with AMD any time soon.
        • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @06:23PM (#11789619)
          "...Mr Dell is deep in Intel's pocket, and wont be cooperating with AMD any time soon."

          Dell comes out and announces this to keep Intel on its toes and to drive up interest in the company. It's like how Apple maintains an x86 port of the Darwin Kernel that OSX uses; not because they intend to switch to x86, but because it gives them, "see, we don't need to run on Motorola/IBM Power architecture, so if you want us to you'd better give us more of what we want," lattitude with an actual possible way to back it up.

          Dell probably had some negotiations that were not going as well as they had hoped, so they made this announcement. Behind the scenes things got addressed, and now they've retracted it.
          • Apple maintains a Darwin port on x86 because they recognize that keeping the core OS a cross-platform effort leads to better coding. It's a widely known tenent of software engineering that cross-platform coding 'forces the programmers to stay honest', i.e. keeps them from codifying the weird quirks and squeaks and bells of the target hardware. I doubt if Apple uses it as a 'threat' to make IBM nervous.
      • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @06:16PM (#11789575) Journal
        Well, three, eight, and six consecutively is a pretty distinct pattern. I don't know about you tin-foil hatters out there, but '386' is unique enough to claim as a trademark.

        That's a nice opinion, but the court's opinion was the opposite of yours, and the two uses of the word "opinion" in this sentence have quite different meanings. Hint: You don't win.

        Hence, the "Pentium", which was trademarkable. (Even if it was a rather wierd time to jump into that naming scheme, what with Sexium or Hexium (depending on who you ask) coming up next, which is also why we still have Pentiums. Think about how silly the name "Pentium 4" is if taken literally....)
      • I get peeved when people talk too loudly while taking public transportation, but I hardly think it should be illegal.
      • How exactly is that a 'pretty distinct pattern'? Distinct from what? For any 3 digit number, there is about 0.1% chance that that number will be 386. Why can't a company who's product reached version 1.0.386 sell or market it as 386. What about 001, that is just as distict as 386, can any one claim it as a trademark. How about number 10? Can I trademark that and sue everyone? The point is, that the claim doesn't make any sense, and that is why Intel came up with the name 'Pentium'. In this case, for 26 let
    • Does Intel own Dell stock or vice versa?

      This is looking kind of fishy if you ask me and strange. Sure a company has the right to ship whichever chips its wants but it surely does not make business sense right now for Dell.

      Price conscience IT departments wont like the price for a SMP Xeon server compared to an SMP Opteron.
      • This is looking kind of fishy if you ask me and strange. Sure a company has the right to ship whichever chips its wants but it surely does not make business sense right now for Dell.

        Price conscience IT departments wont like the price for a SMP Xeon server compared to an SMP Opteron.

        What's to say that Dell isn't paying the same for a Xeon as they would for an Opteron? And pocketing the change? That's why it makes business sense.
      • Dell is the biggest PC vendor only because the "bend over" to whatever the MS/intel douopoly wants. To Intel or Microsoft Dell is a nice marketing outsourcing unit, but if they go rouge, both companies will make an "example" of Dell. Dell is a truely competitve company...anybody can replace them overnight. If anybody's hurt by MS & intel's practices it's Dell, because they can't choose their products freely...deviate too much and their toast. But of course, Dell can't say anything... because then t
      • Price conscience IT departments wont like the price for a SMP Xeon server compared to an SMP Opteron.

        Actually, as someone who's just priced up a couple of specifications for beefy x86 machines recently, the Xeon-based system came out somewhat cheaper; the systems were as similar as I could get (one with 4GB RAM, a single ATA disc, the other with 8GB RAM and 4x143GB SCSI discs RAIDed). The Xeon-based systems were both 2xXeon 3.2 Nocona (1MB L2), the Opteron-based systems were both 2xOpteron 250 2.4GHz. I d

        • "but I seem to recall the Opteron systems were about 10-20% more expensive."

          In terms of SMP performance, Opteron systems are about 80% faster that XEON systems. If you are going to run some sort of database on your server, an Opteron solution that is 10-20% more expensive would be worth it.

          Have you even seen the reviews/benchmarks that compare the SMP XEON to SMP Opteron systems?
    • When you can't compete on price or performance, just block your competitors from shipping their products to manufacturers. I guess if this is a valid way to do business, we can rent some jersey barriers and place them all around a particular site in Redmond.
  • by Krankheit ( 830769 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @05:22PM (#11789212)
    They get Intel jealous by flirting with AMD and when Intels reluctantly lowers their price Dell goes back to Intel. It is likely that they would do to Microsoft with Linux or *BSD to get the price of Windows down.
  • In other words... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmcmunn ( 307798 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @05:22PM (#11789213)

    Dell found cheaper prices for Intel boards/processors and whatnot, and can keep their bargain basement prices without switching vendors. All this means is that they can keep winning the price wars without switching...

    Side note:
    Oh and anyone who still needs a Gmail account...feel free to drop by my page. I have over 600 of them posted. Free for the taking...

    http://www.jiggybyte.com/gmail [jiggybyte.com]

  • Translation (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jameth ( 664111 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @05:22PM (#11789214)
    "That is now beginning to put customers more at ease that they don't need to make a shift (to AMD)."

    - or -

    We are Intel's customer, and now that they gave us a dumptruck full of money, we are quite at ease.
  • HAHA (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 26, 2005 @05:23PM (#11789219)
    First Microsoft will only allow re-installs/product activation of XP via phone support, now Dell won't use AMD's incredible processors. Let Dell and Microsoft both fade into irrelevancy. Christmas in February! I love it.
  • If this was for a technical reason, i guess i'm wondering what that reason was (mainly because i only run AMD at home and would really like to know).

    Anyone know why? Or did Intel stop by and mention something special is in the works?
    • Yeah. One major technical reason. The majority of systems that Dell sells are workstation machines. They just run Windows 2K/XP, and Microsoft Office. Thus, they don't need the 64-bit mode, or the speed increase AMD offers.

      AMD doesn't produce the chipsets, nor has the fabrication facilities of Intel, so overall, Intel provides the better deal. While an Opteron is a no-brainer for a server, I think it's safe to assume that their use of Xeons is a side-effect of their deals with Intel when making workstation
    • I think it's a combination.

      -The prices Dell gets for Intel processors and chipsets and other parts make AMD look expensive.
      -Dealing with greater variety of processors and other parts increases overhead for manufacturing and support.
      -Prejudice in the industry left over from earlier generations of AMD chips that weren't as solid.
      -AMD chips are performing very well everywhere right now, but the difference is big enough for big customers to start switching mostly on big multi-processor systems, which is a tiny
  • by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @05:26PM (#11789239) Homepage Journal
    I use AMD processors in some of my servers and am evaluating purcahsing a new rack full of hardware for migrating off our current servers (mix of AMD & Intel) that are tower based. Monarch Computers [monarchcomputer.com] (Linux Journal runs on them) is pretty reasonable but I'm also looking at the Sun [sun.com] offerings.

    I like Dell computers reasonably well. However we have decided to go with AMD for multiple reasons. Unfortunately they don't offer what we are looking for and as a result have lost about a $30,000 purchase. Granted 30K is peanuts to them but over time it adds up, one customer here, one customer there.

    Their slogan should be "Dell, providing what we say you need, not what you desire." Hell, even their linux offerings are a joke (workstation side).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      but told them that they absolutely needed to be opteron based (we do mostly processor bound simulations for a DOD client). The sales droid said they would take our specifications and get back to me. About a week later, I get a phone call saying that their wonderful 3.2ghz P4 solution was perfect for our application. So I politely thanked him for the call and bought the systems from another vendor.

      Whatever Intel is doing for them, it must be pretty good...

    • by spideyct ( 250045 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @06:26PM (#11789652)
      And when the customers add up enough to be significant, they will switch.

      As important as it is to you to have AMD, it really isn't for the majority of their customers.

      Why would Dell stick with a product, if they could be more successful with a different product? What exactly are you suggesting? Some sort of conspiracy? They're deliberately making less profit, just to annoy AMD? Notify the stockholders, bring a lawsuit.
      • Wow you hit the nail on the head and I don't believe you truely realize it.

        In my experience companies only change when there is pain involved. By then it is usually too late to lead in a new area. They go in to "protective" mode instead of the risk taking that made them large in the first place. Heck it even applies to how they manage their employees.

        So, it is easy for Dell to stay with Intel, until they suffer some pain. They will go in to the "protection" mode for as long as they can and "if" AMD co
        • I hit the nail on the head AND I realized it ;)

          And I disagree with your conclusion.

          Dell's success in the past has been based on this same strategy. Give the customers what they want, when they (the "collective they", not the "specific they") want it. That is what the direct model allows them to do, better than anyone. Let other companies create new products and convince customers they need them. If enough customers are convinced and come asking for a product, Dell will sell it. Being the "first move
      • Well they could make a good bit more off of using AMD in key areas, but Intel pays them (literally) to not do so. For years and years now Intel has paid a large portion of any PC vendors marketing costs if the hold to some strict guidelines from Intel about what they sell... This is a big reason why Dell ads are everywhere, since they have a large pool of money to spend on them that is a 'gift' from Intel... All that not factoring in pricing deals on core parts (CPU & chipsets) that Intel gives them...
    • Dell's market share and sales increased again this quarter, as it has in most all the past quarters for many years.
      That is because of very many satisfied customers, steadily improving quality which is better than the big competitors (according to the big surveys), better customer satisfaction than the big competitors (according to the big surveys), etc.
      So according to a very large number of customers, Dell sells what the customers need, not just what they say they want.
      Hmm, actual facts seem to contradict t
      • Well, I hate to insult you, but Dell servers are designed like crap. One example, 2650 with hot-plug power supplies that fail quite often, and that you can't remove without pulling the server out of the rack and opening the cover?? Take a look at the inside of a Compaq. The materials are better, the chassis is solid, not flimsy tinfoil, etc etc.
  • The boss usually likes to buy through Dell, as it is a name he trusts. I haven't minded, as fatwallet [fatwallet.com] has often pointed me to fantastic deals & I could look good by stretching the buck as far as it went.

    We recently needed to get non-SMP machines which could address massive amounts of memory. Dell's anti-AMD stance made this exceedingly difficult. Instead, we ordered through Monarch [monarchcomputer.com]. They are fantastic! The prices are fair--not so cheap as build-your-own & not as cheap as the outrageous Dell de
  • With fewer choices, some potential customers will just look elsewhere (again).
  • I can not figure out how this makes good business sense?

    Dell was correct back in 1999 to turn down the Athlon due to instability issues with some early chipsets.

    But today the chipsets (excluding VIA) are fairly reliable. Does serverworks have a chipset for the Opteron?

    Maybe that could be the reason?

    But AMD chips are now reliable and alot cheaper and could save Dell a ton of money. Especially this is true in the server arena.

    • Dell does not make their own motherboards. In fact, Dell does not make anything at all, they assemble other companies components (and even that is often outsourced). Things like motherboards are contracted out to the lowest bidder. This is exactly the same way that HPaq builds their machines as well.

      As for Serverworks/Broadcom (Serverworks was bought out a couple years ago), they do not yet have an AMD chipset out, but are working on one. In fact, since Intel decide to yank Serverworks license for the
  • Technical considerations aside, there are business reasons that could contribute to this decision. Aside from the issues of switching processor vendors, there's also the issue of production capacity.

    Intel is a much larger company than AMD. I was under the impression that AMD doesn't (yet) have the production capacity to match Intel - could they actually manage to supply at the rate Dell might require? It's not in Dell's interests to go with a component it can't obtain in sufficient bulk, regardless of t
    • For desktops? Almost certainly not. For servers? Absolutely. You can bet they'd switch their production lines to higher margin server chips if they had to. It would take three months for increased numbers of finished server chips to make it out the other end of the manufacturing pipeline but soemthing could be worked out in the meantime.
    • It is true that AMD doesn't have the production capabilities to supply enough chips if Dell decided to completely drop Intel and use AMD. However, such an idea is as stupid as it is crazy. Dell doesn't even have a single model that uses AMD chips. If Dell decided to use AMD, they would most likely start with a single model to see how well it sells and AMD should have the capacity to handle that.
  • I reject Dell...again!

    In other words, Dell is a large company, and they can have a million corporate reasons not to use AMD chips - reasons that don't apply to me and you. Like, they can't source them fast enough, or they sell to stupid asshats who don't know about AMD, or AMD's president's third nephew screwed Dell's cousin's cousin's daughter. Why the heck do I care, unless they state their reasons? Also, I don't buy Dell computers because they are too expensive for what they are. I can get equivalen
  • AMD should... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zarthrag ( 650912 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @06:04PM (#11789487)
    ...make anti-Dell remarks in public - and refuse to ever offer them a bargain. Then maybe Dell will stop trying to whore wintel for money.
  • Is that as difficult a shift as using a Western Digial hard drive instead of a Quantum?

    My company made this amazing AMD "shift" several months ago and I don't think anyone at all noticed. What is so tough about this?

  • by TheHawke ( 237817 ) <rchapin.stx@rr@com> on Saturday February 26, 2005 @06:11PM (#11789539)
    Just got done tangling with a Dell system that got it's onboard VGA plug ripped out (idiot customer didnt unscrew the thumbscrews before he yanked).
    I got a wild idea about putting a MSI board into the case, only to discover that the mounting holes on the backplane do NOT match up with the HSF holes for the mounting bracket.
    I sat back, cussed and stewed over this, only to come to a conclusion that Intel and Dell did a backroom agreement that they would alter the design for the HSF mounting points to keep any customer from doing a swapout of the mainboard without doing some major surgery. Fortunately I went and got a HSF from a local supplier and pretty much bypassed most of the BS that is inside a dell case.
    This looks like that it was no accident, the backplane is 2 centimeters to the right of the holes on the MSI board. If you think that i'm full of it, there are TWO sets of HSF mounting holes on the backplane that are pretty much set up for certain intel boards. None of the P4 boards I have will match up with them.
    • If you do manage to get another board in there, be sure to check the pinout on the power supply before trying to turn it on, unless you want another surprise!

      Your best bet would be to get a whitebox case, decent power supply, new motherboard, and move the rest of the parts over.
      • Naw, they would not go as far as modifying the power output without putting some sort of major notice on the system.
        I believe that Micron tried something like that once, departing from the AT standard at the time. They caught hell for it and were forced to switch back to the old standard.

        Same went for Packard Hell (Bell) and their little powerpacks.. $100+ US for a power supply? Forget it.
  • That is now beginning to put customers more at ease that they don't need to make a shift (to AMD)

    Just how hard is it to move to a chip that does essentially the same thing as Intel? Even from a systems administration perspective, this is a non-issue.

  • by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @06:34PM (#11789726) Homepage
    Dell sells a great number of computers, but really, AMD needed OEMs during the days of the K5, and early days of the Athlon. since the Athlon grabbed the lead, and now since the Athlon64 is leading all CPUs, AMD really doesnt need Dell. Anyone looking for performance gets an Athlon64 server. Anyone looking for big-company machines gets IBM or Sun. Anyone looking for cheap servers would get Dell, unless they want to go real cheap in which case they'd choose a custom-built server using AMD (Dells cheapest server is $480, IBM's 206 is $500 CDN).

    So really Dell is counting on Intel's special price-cuts for Dell for profits. As soon as that dries up, or if Intel provides such pricecuts to HP or the likes, Dell will simply have to get back to AMD.

    Customers with brand-name loyalty will always go to IBM or sun, have never seen brand-name loyalty to HP or Dell. Either way AMD's lack of reliabiity is the last of reasons to not sell AMD
    • Anyone looking for performance gets an Athlon64 server.

      No, no, no. Anyone looking for performance gets an Opteron server.

      The Athlon64 is more orientated towards the desktop portion, not server.
  • This has been explained many times in the past. It's true that DELL and Gateway once offered AMD based machines. And one of the reasons they stopped is because AMD could not meet demand.
  • Do people still read The Register? I had always thought of them as some kind of British tabloid magazine, and ever since they lost BOFH, things got progressively worse. Need we just look to some of their most recent articles (from the front page even!)?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/25/breast_sh a pe/ [theregister.co.uk]

    WTF? Am I reading Cosmo or an IT website? Sure fooled me!
  • by Glendale2x ( 210533 ) <slashdot@ninjamon[ ].us ['key' in gap]> on Saturday February 26, 2005 @07:34PM (#11790080) Homepage
    With so much bitching about how much Dell sucks and AMD is better blah blah blah, I thought I'd offer my experience.

    First off, I have never dealt with Dell Home before, only Dell Small Business. Rumor has it that the latter division has better prices. What I needed was a 1U dual processor rack mount server. I needed it for a crazy low price because it was going to feed a donation-funded service, and I needed the hardware before I could wait for the cash. I looked at almost everyone I could find: HP and IBM were way too expensive for what I could find (their websites were kind of annoying too), random box vendors like Monarch wanted to charge me for shit like $80 to install Fedora (no thanks, I wanted Debian) and other stuff like silver grease for $15 per processor, and others like Penguin Computing who looked great but were just too expensive.

    Ultimately it came down to some Dell 1U servers that were giving away free double hard drive capacity upgrades and double RAM on their magic rotating deals. Yeah, the deal changes and will probably be better next week, but what the hell. I bought two and waited.

    The servers are very nice for the price. They come with wonderful stuff like BIOS level serial console redirection, too, that seems to be some super-cost option from random box builder. They're rock solid, very fast, and Dell builds them with Linux support in mind anyway. I bought mine with no OS, rather than paying some mystical install tax.

    I like AMD processors as well as the next guy - all three desktop systems I've built have been AMD processors. But I went with Dell because they had what I needed with a price I was willing to pay for it. I am, by no means, a "cost is no object" player and I really don't have an extra $600 to fudge with.

    Now, if I missed someone out there who can beat the $1500 price tag (I usually buy in multiples of two) of the Dells I have that uses Opteron processors, I will definately look at them for my next purchase. I prefer AMD, but the Xeons in my Dell servers will have to do.

    As I sad at the beginning, maybe this isn't the case when you are looking for home computers or some workstations, but I buy Apple for that stuff, anyway. Mac for the desktop and iX86 for the rack. The Xserve is nice, but fscking expensive.

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