RealTime IT News

AMD Reaches Higher With Dual-Core Opteron

AMD is launching three new models of its dual-core Opteron processor family for one-way to eight-way x86 servers and workstations, keeping the pressure on competitor Intel in the dual-core market.

The latest chips lay claim to the highest performance and performance-per-watt in those categories.

The dual-core Opteron processor Model 880 is designed for up to eight-way, 16-core enterprise-class servers and the Model 280 for high performance dual-processor workstations and servers.

The Model 180 for one-processor, two-core servers and workstations is expected to be available within 30 days. In 1,000-unit quantities the 880 is priced at $2,649, the Model 280 $1,299 and the Model 180, at $799.

Analyst Nathan Brookwood of Insight64 told interentnews.com he expects Intel to bring out the first version of its "Paxville" dual-core Xeon processor by the end of this month or early October.

"AMD will argue that with its on-chip memory controller it will continue to beat Intel in performance, and they've thrown down the gauntlet challenging Intel," said Brookwood. "Until Intel introduces Paxville they don't have a system to fight with. Paxville is Intel's ticket into the arena."

Coming first is Intel's four-way, dual-core Paxville DP. The eight-way Paxville MP is expected out next year.

IBM, one of the first vendors to ship dual-core Opteron-based blade, rack server and workstations, seems a likely candidate to support the new processors, but so far has not approved an official statement of support for AMD's latest release. It's possible IBM hasn't decided when it might adopt the higher end Opterons.

Another Opteron supporter, HP, made a clear statement of support that it plans to add the new Dual-Core AMD Opteron processors to its ProLiant line of servers and workstations, saying it plans to use the Model 880 in its four-processor/eight-core HP ProLiant DL 585 and BL45p and the Model 280 in the two-processor/four-core ProLiant DL385 and DL145 G2, plus the BL25p and BL35p server blades.

HP also plans to use the Model 280 in its HP xw9300 workstation that features multi-processing capabilities and support for dual PCI-Express x16 graphics for high end graphics and visualization applications.

Earlier this month, AMD customer Sun Microsystems announced its "Galaxy" line of dual-core servers based on the Opteron SE 280, that are due out next month. Sun designed Galaxy for 120 watts. The Opterons announced today use 95 watts. HP is the other big Opteron customer.

"This is our second generation while our competitor is still working on its first," Randy Allen, corporate vice president, of AMD's server products division, told internetnews.com.. "Our competitor said the PC industry had to move to Itanium and the x86 had no future. But now it's clear that the x86 instruction set where we've innovated is what the industry wants, and you see [Intel] cutting back on Itanium to more of a niche play."

That "niche play" is the multi-billion dollar high end server market where Intel has repositioned Itanium, which was originally envisioned as a successor to the mainstream Pentium.

At the same time AMD rolled out its AMD updates, Intel announced the Itanium Solutions Alliance, made up of Intel and other leading hardware and software companies looking to promote and support adoption of Itanium.

Intel will offer a dual-core Itanium, it refers to as Montecito, later this year, though Intel's Xeon line competes more directly with Opteron.

AMD challenged Intel to a "dual-core duel" last month and continues to tweak its rival for not responding to the idea of a public contest that would benchmark systems based on each company's respective processors.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini did respond by saying: "I've always believed the best measure of a product's worth is customer acceptance in the marketplace."

Sales and customer acceptance in the marketplace will indeed be the ultimate measure of success for both companies. As an underdog to chip giant Intel, AMD has to offer competitive, if not better products to avoid being marginalized. Company officials said they're confident they can.

"We introduced Opteron two and a half years ago and we've been on a steady march upward since then," said Allen. AMD claims 75 of the top 100 companies in the Forbes Global 2000 rankings use Opteron-based systems to run critical enterprise applications. And, added Allen: "We expect that number to top 80 by the end of this quarter."