It’s Opteron’s sixth birthday, and the chip wars just got interesting again.
Sure, the company just launched a power-sipping, quad-core Shanghai chip (more on that later) but the latest salvo was impressively delivered by AMD today (amid an earnings beatdown) when the company announced that it plans to start shipping 6-core Istanbul processors in June (OEMs will start getting theirs in May).
The best news for IT shops that are planning to refresh their servers in the coming months is that machines powered by the virtualization-friendly chips will get a lot more work done under the same power envelope. Geek.com reports:
Istanbul will deliver 30% more performance than previous Opterons at the same power levels, in two-socket, four-socket and eight-socket servers. The products are sampling right now, and AMD and OEMs will launch Istanbul-based products beginning in June, 2009.
…Istanbul will come with six cores, 2-channel integrated memory controller, 3-channel HyperTransport links with HT Assist, AMD-V (virtualization), AMD-P (power savings) and will exist in the common socket and power envelope for two- through eight-socket servers.
Here’s an AMD-supplied YouTube video of the chip in action:
Why Istanbul, and why now? This may clarify the company’s approach to future processors, including the planned 12-core Magny-Cours in 2010 and the 16-core Interlagos pegged for 2011.
In closing up the presentation, AMD has noted a definite customer trend they identified as “Customer value shift”. It relates to a combination of cloud-computing, low-power and virtualization. The idea is to increase the amount of parallel throughput from a given power envelope and physical quantity of server space in a server farm.
AMD is absolutely committed to continuing to address these low-power, lower single-thread performing tasks, though with massively parallel throughput at a lower power-band. This means more energy savings, greater throughput with potentially even more CPUs, despite the lower power requirements.
But you were just getting warmed up to quad-core architectures. Worry not. AMD has been able to squeeze energy savings out of the 45nm Shanghai with the just launched Opteron EE, which runs at 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz while consuming just 40 watts.