RealTime IT News

AMD Begins Shipping Six-Core Opteron

AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced it has begun shipments of its six-core Opteron processor, developed under the codename "Istanbul," to OEM customers, who are expected to begin selling servers with the processor later this month.

Because the Istanbul family of Opteron 1000, 2000 and 8000 processors are socket-compatible with the existing "Barcelona" and "Shanghai" line of quad-core parts, it is possible to upgrade an existing server to the new processor. All that must be done aside from upgrading the chip is to upgrade the computer's BIOS .

AMD had initially planned to release Istanbul in the second half of the year, but due to rapid progress on its part was able to move up the release date. In a pre-taped video statement, AMD CEO Dirk Meyer said the company had "executed ahead of internal expectations and beat its own performance and power goals."

Meyer is in Taiwan for the giant Computex hardware show, so the bulk of the event was carried by Leslie Sobon, vice president of product marketing at AMD. Her message was all about power efficiency and cost efficiency.

In addition to two new cores, Istanbul adds new memory bandwidth technology, called HT Assist. Rather than scour all of the cores for a piece of data, it uses a master lookup table for all of the cores to find the data and goes directly to that core. That alone could reduce up to 34 percent of processing time, according to Sobon.

The six-core processor will be positioned for work-intensive tasks, like high performance computing, virtualization and database workloads can benefit from HT Assist, AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) and the AMD-P suite of power management features. The quad-core is more for the price-sensitive part of the market that wants performance.

AMD expects to release more Istanbul parts in Q3 with greater emphasis on power and energy efficiency.

IDC vice president Matt Eastwood was present at the event and told the audience, "I think AMD is spot on in saying this is about workloads and product segments. Customers are thinking about how they can take the costs out to optimize their IT services."

One of those areas is in virtualization. Companies are deploying single machines to do the work of multiple. "We're seeing more emphasis around multi-core for virtualization," said Eastwood. "This platform sets up the industry to take much more advantage of its resources and put more emphasis on containing the cost of operations."