AMD’s New Opteron EE Fills Out Six-Core Lineup

AMD on Monday filled out its line of six-core Opteron processors with the EE line, the lowest-power and subsequently slowest of its server processors aimed at power-sensitive customers.

All told, AMD (NYSE: AMD) has four lines of six-core Opterons in its “Istanbul” family, broken down by clock speed and power draw. At the top end is the Opteron SE, a 3.0Ghz processor that draws 105 watts of power. The mainstream part runs at 2.6Ghz and draws 75 watts, while the HE runs at 2.1GHz and draws 55 watts.

The EE rounds out the bottom at just 1.8GHz and 40 watts. All four processors are architecturally the same, they just have different speeds and thermal ratings, and they all serve different markets.

“We’re seeing a trend of customers who are more concerned with power, how much the platform is going to cost, the price performance per watt and how can I get more of these into a given space with the right balance of energy efficiency and performance,” Brent Kirby, senior product marketing manager for server business at AMD told

Power and cooling is a major issue, one that has been on the minds of CIOs for some time, and customers are becoming more picky in their purchases, said Kirby, not just buying the fastest system they can but measuring the performance per watt and choosing slightly slower systems that draw less power.

“You want to have some headroom if there is a peak of people hitting your site, but for the most part there is not a huge compute element for these workloads. That’s what the EE processor is good for. The memory and I/O is the same as the highest performance processor,” he said.

An upgrade path

With two extra cores, the Opteron EE offers 30 percent higher performance per watt over the Quad Core Opteron, which has been on the market for two years. The Six Core Opteron EE is socket-compatible with existing servers that use the Socket 1207 design, so the old one can be removed and the new processor installed.

Semiconductor analyst Nathan Brookwood, research fellow with Insight 64, agrees that there is room for all kinds of CPU clock speeds and power draws. “Not everybody is running all their processors at 100 percent all the time. Having a 40 watt part for people who care more about power than performance certainly makes some sense,” he told

A CPU is just one part of the computer, and the difference between the Opteron EE and the standard part is 35 watts. Would 70 watts, assuming a dual socket server, make much difference in big iron? Yes, he said.

“If they are putting together a server for energy efficient environments as opposed to big high performance computing environments, they will put in a more moderate power supply and maybe an SSD drive. Then you’re starting to talk about much less power from the platform overall,” he said.

AMD said the Six Core Opteron EE is available starting today.

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