Dell is coming out with its first servers running Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Opteron processors.

Dell introduced the PowerEdge 6950, a four-socket server, and the PowerEdge SC1435, a two-socket model, today at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco.

Dell says the 6950, with a base price of $6,500 (£3,474) is designed for demanding computing work such as database management, server consolidation, virtualization and migration from processor-based systems.

The entry-level SC1435, with a base price of $1,300 (£695) is designed to run in dense rack server environments and is targeted at small-to-medium sized 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 server competitors HP, Sun, IBM and others in offering AMD Opteron processors as an alternative to Intel's Xeon processors.

"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.