Gartner Research

Understanding Commodity Server Platforms and Vendor Differentiation Strategies

Published: 09 April 2008

ID: G00203474

Analyst(s): Nik Simpson


The x86 server market is dominated by a few vendors, all selling essentially the same hardware platform. Despite its commoditization, the x86 platform undergoes constant development and refinement to better support evolving enterprise data center requirements. Understanding the platform and the strengths and weaknesses of the various vendors is an important part of choosing the right server product for an organization. In this Burton Group report, Analyst Nik Simpson provides a detailed review of the technologies alongside analysis of the various vendors and the market forces shaping the x86 platform.

Table Of Contents



  • Market Impact
    • Market Dynamics
  • Futures
    • Processor Technology
    • Virtualization-Optimized Server Designs
    • New Multiprocessor Architectures
    • Peripheral Component Interconnect Express 2.0 I/O Bus
    • The Decline of Direct-Attached Storage
    • Faster Networks
    • Booting from the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface
  • Market Landscape
    • Scalability
    • Price
    • Performance
    • Price/Performance
    • Virtualization Support
    • OS Support
    • Energy Efficiency
    • Management
    • Support, Warranty, and Consulting Services
    • Overall Ratings
  • Recommendations
    • Choosing an x86 Server Supplier
    • Choosing a Hardware Platform for Server Virtualization
    • Server Management
    • DAS vs. Networked Storage
    • Intel vs. AMD
    • Selecting Add-On Cards
    • White-Box Servers
    • Energy Efficiency

The Details

  • Server Form Factors
    • Rack-mount Servers
    • Tower Servers
  • Processor Technology
    • General Architecture
  • Memory Technology
    • Memory Interleaving
    • Memory Controller
    • Memory Type
    • Memory Error Correction
  • Multiprocessor Architectures
    • Shared-Memory Symmetric Multiprocessors
    • Non-Uniform Memory Access SMPs
  • Server I/O Bus
    • PCI
    • PCI-X
    • PCIe
    • Hardware-Assisted I/O Virtualization
  • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface
  • Direct-Attached Storage
    • Disks
    • Disk Controllers
    • Solid-State Disk Storage
  • Faster I/O Networks
    • InfiniBand
    • 10 Gbit/s Ethernet
    • 8 Gbit/s Fibre Channel
  • Remote Server Management
  • Power Supply Unit
  • Support and Maintenance Programs
    • Dell
    • HP
    • IBM
    • Sun Microsystems



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