AMD Bumps Opteron Speed Up, Power Drain Down

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) today announced a broadening of its Opteron line of server processors, with small bumps to the clock speed while cutting power consumption across the board.

The 8220, 2220 and 1220 Opterons all will bump their performance from 2.4GHz to 2.6GHz while dropping their power consumption from 120 watts to 95 watts. Also new to the line is the HE line, or High Efficiency. These are all low wattage, consuming just 68 watts.

All of the new processors feature AMD PowerNow! technology, which can reduce power consumption in a server by up to 75 percent when idle. AMD claims that in tests of otherwise identical systems, a server with the new 95 watt Opteron consumes 17 percent less power under full load and 38 percent less power while idle than a 65 watt Intel  Xeon 5150-based server.

“The main point we’re trying to get across is we’re trying to get credit for what we’ve done. We have the highest performing dual core CPU, we’re just making it available at a 95 watt power band,” Steve Demski, Opteron product manager at AMD , told

Demski insists that there is still strong interest in dual core, despite the race for quad-core. “There are still some apps better suited to a dual core CPU and we want to send the message that we are still listening to customers who want them. What we’re hearing is ‘We want a higher performing dual core’,” he said.

The 0.2GHz performance bump isn’t a whole lot; it peaks out at around seven percent improvement. On the plus side, though, it is a simple upgrade. All that’s needed is a BIOS update to the computer and the old CPUs can be swapped out.

It’s the combination of the lower power and higher clock speed that makes this more impressive, said Dean McCarron, veteran chip analyst with Mercury Research.

“If you run a higher voltage, you get a higher clock speed. So the difficulty or accomplishment here lies in more performance for less power,” he told

While the new Opterons are a relatively modest improvement over the old ones, every little bit helps, he said.

“There is a portion of the server market that is very power sensitive, blade servers being one, but even conventional servers are moving in that direction. This is AMD’s continuation of that product line,” he said.

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