Monday, March 29, 2010

AMD - "Welcome to the World of 12 Cores"

AMD Opteron 6100 Server ProcessorAMD has kicked off this week by debuting its new "Magny-Cour" server platform series which includes the new Opteron 6100 8-core and 12-core processors. These are the world’s first 8- and 12-core x86 server processors and come with a host of new features including 4 memory channels, HyperTransport™ technology 3.0, a fourth HyperTransport technology link for better processor-to-processor communication in 4P servers, and new power management features that allow for increased performance when compared to previous generations. The chips themselves began shipping last month but AMD has waited until nearly the end of Quarter 1 to make them official so that Original Equipment Manufacturers(OEMs) would be ready with Opteron 6100-powered machines.

The Opteron 6000 platform targets the 2P and 4P market and is aimed to be used for virtualization, database, and high performance computing applications. Apart from the new CPUs, the Opteron platform features the G34 socket and 5600 Series chipset with I/O virtualization capability, HyperTransport 3.0 and PCI Express 2.0. The Opteron 6100 processors are manufactured on 45nm technology and boast four HyperTransport links, a 4 channel integrated DDR3 memory controller, up to 12MB of L3 cache, and is up to 88% faster than the previous generation of processors.

In today's economic climate, AMD has decided to downplay maximum performance in favor of improved power consumption and a cheaper MSRP. Customers are simply looking for more, not less, in their IT dollar and AMD boasts maximum performance. When placed next to servers of comparable power, competitors fall short in pricing. Based on this graph, consumers are paying 42% more money for the honor of a slower processor. In the power consumption field, AMD clearly shows their efficiency by beating out an Intel 130W Thermal Power Design (TDP) part with their own 80W Average Power Consumpution (ACP) part in terms of performance. Effectively AMD has doubled the cores while staying in the same power and thermal range as previous generations.

In addition to AMD's aggressive 2P pricing, they have upped the value and stripped away the “4P tax.” Long gone are the days when customers are required to pay a premium in order to buy a processor capable of scaling up to 4 CPUs in a single platform. As of today, the 4P "tax" from AMD is effectively $0 but the same cannot be said for other competitors.

"As AMD has done before, we are again redefining the server market based on current customer requirements," said Patrick Patla, vice president and general manager, Server and Embedded Divisions, AMD. "The AMD Opteron 6000 Series platform signals a new era of server value, significantly disrupts today’s server economics and provides the performance-per-watt, value and consistency customers demand for their real-world data center workloads."

The Opteron 6000 platform has already been adopted by HP, Dell, Acer Group, SGI and Cray with many more expected.

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