Dell has produced its first servers running AMD's Opteron processors.

The four-socket PowerEdge 6950 and two-socket PowerEdge SC1435 were launched yesterday at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco.

Dell says the 6950, with a base price of $6,500, is designed for demanding computing work such as database management, server consolidation, virtualisation and migration from RISC processor-based systems.

The SC1435, with a base price of $1,300, is designed to run in dense rack server environments and is targeted at small- to medium-size businesses seeking improved price-performance and energy-efficiency.

Dell, like other server makers, is touting the efficiency of new models as data centre managers try to curtail power consumption due to high energy costs. Up until now, Dell had used only Intel server processors, but is now joining competitors HP, Sun and IBM in offering AMD's Opteron as an alternative to Intel's Xeon. "Dell finally came around," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight 64, a technology market research firm.

Dell had been able to satisfy its customer by selling only Intel-powered machines, but when AMD's Opteron began to cut into Intel's market dominance, Dell's customers started asking for the Opteron alternative, too. "Until the past 12 months, [not offering Opteron] never really hurt Dell, but it was beginning to have an impact," Brookwood said.