London (UK) - Ask any hardcore gamer what brand of processor he wants to have running his rig and nine times out of ten he will tell you "AMD." The underdog in the CPU market is very much the golden boy of the gaming clique - so much so that it appears that Massively Multiplayer Online Game operators are beginning to buy servers based on the company’s Opteron technology to provide the massive amounts of muscle required to run them.
Traditionally speaking servers have not been required to crunch as much data in their CPU’s and then throw it out as one has to do with the likes of MMORPG’s ; where thousands of players can inhabit the same place and it’s up to the server rather than client machines to crunch the numbers and tell each machine where it is and what’s around it.
Blizzard Entertainment are rumored to be in the market for a whopping 1500 HP servers based on Opteron 64 in order to run their Battlenet system. This includes, among other games the company runs through the system, their massively massive MMORPG World of Warcraft.
With over 5 million users worldwide Blizzard has a lot of clock cycles to dish out on a daily basis and as VodooPC president Rahul Sood pointed out in his blog when he broke the story, the servers that companies like Blizzard currently use can get old quite fast in this business of growing online populations.
The concept of a "desktop refresh" is a drawn out, never ending cycle of consumers updating their desktops in an unfocused fashion. "Server refresh", as Sood points out, is a far more immediate and trend-setting event.
As Blizzard has found itself having to accommodate far more users the servers running their back end have to be able to meet the demand, and so too the servers running all of the ancillary operations surrounding them. Payment servers, web servers for forums and so on all need to be able to keep up with demand which can grow exponentially overnight in the fluid online world.
Sood says that "I have said it before and I will continue to say it. AMD has a legal money printing press right now, as long as they can produce Opterons in volume, money will grow on trees." He may be right - Opteron is well placed to provide the kind of muscle that has never been needed in quite the bulk we demand today. Applications such as massive multiplayer games demand huge amounts of raw CPU power on top of bandwidth.
The performance of the Opteron chips is certainly what is driving AMD’s confidence in what it’ll be able to grab in the server market in 2006. The company is expecting to double the amount of corporate systems available with the chip this year.
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