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Looking to beat Intel in performance per watt, Advanced Micro Devices has
announced the availability of its most recent server platform, the first eight-
and 12-core x86 processors for high-volume 2P and value 4P servers.

Server makers HP, Dell, Acer, Cray and SGI
immediately announced support with new systems based on the new AMD
Magny-Cours chips.

“It used to be that raw performance was all anyone cared about,” John Fruehe,
director of product marketing for the Server and Workstation Division at AMD,
told Channel Insider. “Now it’s price/performance per watt. That puts AMD
in a good position. We are going to deliver the best in the industry.”

AMD’s announcement comes just a couple weeks
after Intel
announced its new line
of Westmere EP Xeon processors, along with a host of
OEM partners, at Intel’s recent Intel Solutions Summit.

"The process generation for these Opteron chips is actually the same as Intel’s Nehalem-EX processors that are also just coming to market and that’s the relevant comparison," said Gordon Haff, industry analyst with Illuminata.

"We’ll have to see performance data to see exactly how AMD and Intel stack up in this generation but I expect them to be competitive," he said. "One difference is that Intel is emphasizing scalability with Nehalem-EX whereas AMD is emphasizing that it’s not charging a premium for four sockets. Essentially, AMD is aiming for the seam between Intel’s mass market two-socket processors and its scale-up Nehalem-EX."

AMD said its Opteron 6000 Series platform
offers workload-specific performance, power efficiency and overall value while
delivering more cores and more memory for less money.

The processors perform at up to two times the level of AMD’s
previous six-core processors, the company said, including an 88 percent increase
in integer performance and a 119 percent increase in floating-point

Other features, according to AMD, include
the following:

  • Enhanced integrated memory
    controller supporting four channels of DDR3
    memory for up to a 2.5 times improvement in overall memory bandwidth.
  • 33 percent more memory
    channels per processor than competitive 2P solutions.
  • 50 percent higher DIMM
    capacity compared with previous generations, with up to 12 per processor,
    increasing the available memory overall and improving virtualization,
    database and HPC applications.
  • AMD
    5600 Series chip set with I/O virtualization capability, HyperTransport
    3.0 technology and PCI Express 2.0.
  • Pricing for 4P processors is
    now the same as for 2P processors, providing more value to the 4P space.
  • New power management features
    including a C1E power state to conserve energy when idle, the Advanced
    Platform Management Link allowing APML-enabled platforms to be remotely
    monitored for power and cooling, and AMD
    CoolSpeed technology, which automatically reduces p-states if a specified
    temperature limit is exceeded.

The new Opterons will deliver better performance to virtualized IT
infrastructures, Fruehe noted. “One of the biggest uses for 4P these days is
virtualization. Each virtual machine can be given its own dedicated core to run
on. If you have more virtual cores than dedicated cores in the system, you are
continually loading cores from the memory. This way you get better performance
and scalability,” he said.

Virtualization is widely expected to drive
much of the server refresh forecast
for 2010.

Fruehe said that while AMD’s new processors
are 45-nanometer designs (and Intel has gone to the next process node, 32 nm),
“from a performance standpoint they are being beaten on power and pricing.”

Fruehe said AMD will bring out its next-generation
processor core, code-named Bulldozer, in 2011. It will be based on a 32-nm
process technology and is being designed from the ground up. At the same
time, it will fit directly into legacy sockets and will be completely backward

OEM partners immediately announced support for the new platform, including HP,
which introduced three HP ProLiant G7 server platforms that the company said
delivered a 23-1 consolidation ratio together with better power savings over
previous generations. HP said the new servers will be part of the HP Converged
Infrastructure portfolio, which integrates servers, storage, network devices
and facility resources into a common environment.