Linden Labs chooses Intel

By now many people have heard that Linden Labs, the creator of Second Life has chosen to buy Intel based servers rather than Opteron boxes" and also that I was involved in this a bit. ( I thought I would throw up a quick blog to address the many questions that have been coming my way. My name is Ben; I am a Field Applications Engineer at Intel up here in the Seattle area. Here is the brief history on this win and a bit of personal insight:

One of our top local OEMs, Silicon Mechanics ( has been working very closely with Linden Labs for a number of years. Back in the day, Linden used to buy Intel platforms, but Linden switched to Opteron about a year ago when our Xeon products were not as competitive as AMDs Opteron. We were bummed, but we understood the business decision. Linden purchased several hundred Opteron servers over the past year from Silicon Mechanics. Kudos to AMD.

Enter the new "Core architecture" based Xeon processors (code named Woodcrest) and now Intel has a more competitive product. Woodcrest uses less power and delivers significantly better performance than we used to" and also better than Opteron. I guess you could say that Opteron hammered us there for a while - but hey, we finally woke up and are bringing some great products to market that are swinging the hammer the other way. The Big Wood really is as good as the press makes it out to be.

A month or so ago, Linden was looking for yet another round of rack mount servers from Silicon Mechanics. I guess Linden buys a bunch every month " they are really growing. Kudos to Linden! They heard about our new Woodcrest parts and wanted to do their own, in-house comparison. SiMec gave us a call and we got the parts and got right to work. With the help of the engineering guys at Silicon Mechanics, we were able to develop a rack mount platform based on the new low voltage Woodcrests that delivered superior price, performance and power consumption over the best Opteron platform. As a result, Linden chose Intel " and they are able to get more servers into a rack than before. The result is seen in the zdnet blog" Linden choose to go with Intel Woodcrest.

Personally, I love the competitiveness that AMD has pumped back into the Intel spirit. It really is different around here " different and better. I also really appreciate the fact that customers like Linden Labs are smart enough and flexible enough in their IT groups to constantly choose the best platform for their dollar. Keeps AMD and Intel on our feet" and that is good for everyone. Quad core from Intel is coming in about two months. AMD will be there in the middle of 2007. I am looking forward to mid-07 to see how we all stack up again. Linden said it best in their announcement " we will have to see what 2007 quad core brings.

My advice to my company, don't get a big head over this "win'. Intel did not win, Linden Labs did. For us, it is just a step along the way. We gotta keep pushing the performance and power consumption envelope as hard as we can" or the next Opteron will kick our butts yet again.

Ben Shamansky
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