AnandTech IT has an interesting post up that looks at the roadmap for AMD in the server arena for 2010/2011. The gist of it is that AMD may be competitive with Intel in some parts of the market (two-socket servers), which is very good news for the industry. If Intel has no meaningful competition, they will have no incentive to innovate and release new products in a timely manner.
This would be “a bad thing” for your average SQL Server DBA, who can often use the extra CPU capacity provided by newer processors on things like backup compression and data compression. In addition, these newer processors use new chipsets that have more memory channels and more memory capacity, which make it more economically feasible to have 72-96GB of RAM in a low cost, two socket commodity server. As 8GB sticks of DDR3 become more affordable, we should see affordable RAM amounts of 144-192GB in two socket servers. Having that much RAM can really take the pressure off your I/O subsystem.
The octal-core, Intel Nehalem EX will be the four-socket Nehalem, with 16 DIMM slots per CPU. This would give you 256GB with 4GB DIMMs, and 512GB with 8GB DIMMs to go with 32 processor cores (64 with hyper-threading). You will need to be running Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 R2 to get the best performance with this type of hardware. It does not look like AMD has anything (that has been announced yet) that can compete with the Nehalem EX at the high end.