As a guy who works with Dell and HP servers every day and prefers AMD’s Opterons, my initial take is that Dell’s announced plans for a 4-socket Opteron server are the first real salvo they’ve fired at Intel for lagging in that part of the server space for several years now. The primary comparison in this space isn’t individual processor speed, it’s how fast data can moved around in the system, between disks, memory, processors, and back. The direct connect memory archecture of the 4S Opterons has been superior to Intel’s single- and dual-front-side-bus architectures of their 4S Xeon MP solutions. IBM recognized this a while back and instead of building 4S Opteron servers, engineered their own chipsets for the Xeon MP to address Intel’s shortcomings.

I suspect the Dell offering (a PowerEdge 6955?) will have feature parity with the HP ProLiant DL585, but I wonder what they’ll improve on besides perhaps the price. News more interesting than this would be a Dell 2U, 2-socket Opteron server to compete with HP and Sun in the higher-volume server market. With two dual-core processors and 16 to 32GB of RAM per server, these are fun boxes for the price.