Blizzard Going Crazy for Opteron

I am currently in Geneva at the moment and as such haven’t had much time for writing, but there are some great stories I will write later regarding this trip.

There was an interesting rumor I heard that Blizzard finally bit the bullet and purchased a whack of new servers to upgrade their Battlenet system. I am not one to write about rumors unless I feel it is pretty accurate.

I am guessing Blizzard will combine the power of these servers to improve the gaming experience for World of Warcraft users worldwide – as well Blizzard may also be preparing for their next major online game. Perhaps they are preparing for the next generation Diablo or something of the like.

Regardless of their intentions, there is an interesting point to all of this.

You see, people keep talking about a “desktop refresh” in this industry. Everytime I go to a "Channel Summit" where I meet with my peers in the industry they have some guy talking about this "desktop refresh". This means that eventually they expect consumers to refresh their desktop systems. People in my industry just don’t get it – there is no official “desktop refresh” it’s just an evolving process. Consumer behavior when it comes to purchasing electronics is changing based on the aging demographics.

The big thing I’m seeing is a trend for a “server refresh” in the way of online and offline servers. While a “desktop refresh” is an evolving process, a “server refresh” is something of significance because it’s immediate, and such a refresh has noticable "needle moving" results. Companies such as Blizzard need to upgrade their infrastructure as the demand for their incredible games continues to increase all the time.

Even Google is seeing major infrastructure upgrades in various emerging markets. The worldwide demand for server technology is huge, just think about all the online companies that have had aging servers operating for three or more years. These servers are getting old man, and these companies for the most part remain profitable so they cannot afford any downtime whatsoever. Even the guys who handle payments for companies like Blizzard need to upgrade their servers eventually.

The interesting point to all of this is Blizzard is rumored to have purchased around 1500+ new HP servers all based on AMD Opteron 64 technology. This is most def the first time that Blizzard has purchased AMD based servers in bulk. Apparently most of the online gaming world is using or requests AMD technology in their servers.

This is truly a testament to the fact that gamers influence the rest of the industry when it comes to specific buying trends. We know when something is good, and we tend to eat our own dogfood.

The AMD Opteron 64 has tons of room for growth – 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.

It seems to me that it is no longer a matter of choice for companies to choose AMD as a partner; rather it’s a matter of AMD being able to choose their partners accordingly.

Perhaps Google seems like a logical customer for AMD.


Sharikou, Ph. D said...

My projection is AMD will exit 2006 with 45% of server market share. Bsically, AMD has Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 2006 to run wild. AMD will rule the server, workstation and desktop market.

Jameson A. said...

They will need a place to put those servers, and that is where I come in.

I can put them right next to NC Soft and they can rule MMOGs from our datacenters!

Anonymous said...

Blizzard is too stupid to build their own network infrastructure, and will continue to over-pay AT&T, harming their end-users through AT&T's congested peerings.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see a company with the server buying power of Blizzard choosing the correct CPU for the correct job. It's a trend I hope to see continue. Intel's Xeon ruled the server roost back in PII/PIII and early P4 days, but now all they have is name recognition. In serving environments Opterons kick the living crap out of xeons, and ask so little (power consumption) in return.

While I don't play mmorpg's myself, I can only imagine the load that must put on the servers that run it, especially something with the scope of WOW. Good Job Blizzard for watching trends, doing homework, and listening to your customers. I only hope more companies follow suit in the coming years.


Halon said...

Very Intreseting, I caught this on the wow general forums, I am certainly hoping that there will be a server update because basically you can play 5/7 days you pay for in a week because of downtime and other problems.

I also see you are a Palladin!, Nice to see fellow loladins, heh. My In game name is Halon and i have 8/8 lawlbringer as well as some judgment.

Rahul Sood said...

:) I'm no Palladin - I wish I had the time to play this game, it has created many of our staff into gaming addicts.

Anonymous said...

Which is why you and many others should stay away from it (I avoid these games like the plague they are). WOW is just another highly addictive, unproductive waste of time. It's real danger is how it ties a person to the game, and tempts people to give their life to the game (countless number of hours a week), basically by "living" a false life of lies outside their own.

The problem with the industry at the moment, is that companies see money in this kind of treatment of gamers. It is the responsibility of the gamers to moderate themselves ,indeed, but the companies shouldnt be looking to feed these kind of addictions. The essence of gaming is the fun, the competition and the ability to turn it off/on at full will. Games like WOW, which being the first western world MMORPG to have such success as it does, twist that ability to turn it off and on at will and so; cause stress and strain on the persons ability to make choices that might be important to their life. Which is the only reason they get away with these "grinding" parts of the game. Imagine having to "grind" in Quake 4 just to get a better weapon or to jump, I hardly think people would put up with it. The companies make it as hard as possible to just get back to reality. Yes, reality; the part of your life, thats hard, that hurts and causes us to suffer. It is much more worthy of our time then games like WOW, which are created to consume us into a world where; the only character building you do is by pressing endless combinations of buttons in an autonomous fasion.

Gamers shouldn't be treated like Sheep! We shouldnt put up with this nonsense! If we dont do something about this! gaming as we remember in our nostalgic years as children will be twisting us to our own undoing! We want games of real quality, fun and competition, not senseless addiction!

This post might of been a little off-topic, but I think it to be appropriate, and I hope that some insight comes from it.

Anonymous said...

Blizzard is not at least using AT&T in the rest of the world (compared to US - US is not everyting, as someone thinks). In Europe Telia International Carrier has all ISP connections, transit etc. loaded on their "Viking Network".

Anonymous said...

When it comes to server work companies could care less about gamers and the CPUs they use.

All they care about is transactions per second and transactions per second per dollar. Blizzard is moving to AMD powered server because they offer significant performance increases (30-50%) over Intel in the SQL arena with little additional cost. If Intel released a new wonder server chip tomorrow that out performed an Opteron Blizzard would start buying it.

Don't confuse business decisions with brand loyalty.

chaostheorem said...

Actually businesses do recognize brand identity, and sometimes that looks like brand loyalty, but is really a mindset created by situations and/or experience related to the product brand.

For example I've had customers tell me their IT managers will only buy Intel (because of bad experiences or other situations where they found Intel to be dependable for their issues).

In this case though, it could be anything from the brand identity of AMD changing position in the minds of the decision-makers at Blizzard, or it might even be just the raw performance numbers as 'anonymous' pointed out.

Either way, its a big win for both HP and AMD.

Tamagotchi said...

As I'm writting this comment, all the Wow servers are currently shut down at this time as Blizzard is doing a technical mantanance for the whole gaming server, hence I cannot get into the Bonechewer realm to enjoy the game.

The rumors about Blizzard buying new Opteron systems for their gaming servers is interesting but it didn't supprised me, whether the rumors are ture or not considering the performace in AMD's recent CPU especially on desktops.

While Intel's latest CPUs have the raw GHz power, AMD's CPUs performs better in practice especially for gaming needs. Despite the formal benchmarks when comparing the two CPUs (which Intel beats AMD in), AMD's CPU is a gamer's choice, which is why Blizzard may have brought the Opteron systems, which suits the company's needs for their gaming server plus the Opteron systems are cheaper than the Xeon system.

Hopefully, the newer systems may fix up the downtime problem, which started to bug everyone including me.

But at least WoW is easy on the system requirement since my computer is not as powerful as the more of the hardcore computers that were built for more powerful games like EQ2.

blackstar said...

what relevant, formal benchmarks does intel beat AMD in?

AMD is faster in gaming and serving, uses less power in doing so, you think Blizzard would buy AMD if it was inferior? this decision is driven by £££ / performance, and nothing else.

Anonymous said...

On the comment that playing WoW MMoRPG is a waste of time. I am ill, a depression- burnout . I am on a waitinglist for treatment, unable to work. There is nothing much usefull I can do during the week. The advice is to get max. distracation and relaxation. WoW provides that for me and as a plus also provides some low level social contacts without the stress of real life contacts in cooperation. Thus it helps me get tru the waiting period and even improves my condition somewhat.

This may not be true to the same extend for healthy people having a job, but for me,playing (a lot of ) WoW makes sense.

Anonymous said...

You could take up gold farming - kill two birds with one stone.

Ryan said...

2 years ago MS bought 1k HP DL585's they then upgraded over 100 of those last year to dual core machines as well as buying 100's more. The 585's perfect for heavily used servers, easily upgradeable and quick to fix when something goes bad.

Anonymous said...

WoW rulz, you all know it, quit complaining.