March 5, 2006 9:00 PM PST
AMD boosts Opteron speed, plans 'Rev F' models
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The new dual-core Opteron models 185, 285 and 885 run at 2.6GHz and show performance improvements of about 4 percent to 15 percent compared with earlier top-end models running at 2.4GHz, said Brent Kerby, AMD's Opteron product marketing manager. The announcement comes a day before AMD's top competitor begins its twice-annual Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.
The 185 model is for single-processor systems and will be available within 30 days, at which point pricing will be announced. The 285 model is for dual-processor systems and costs $1,051 in 1,000-unit quantities. The 885 model is for four- or eight-processor systems and costs $2,149 in 1,000-unit quantities, AMD said.
With Opteron, AMD beat Intel's Xeon to the punch with several features useful for server processors, including support for large amounts of memory through 64-bit extensions and a dual-core design. Revenue from x86 servers using AMD chips jumped from 6 percent market share in the last quarter of 2004 to 14.3 percent in the last quarter of 2005, according to IDC.
The chips consume a maximum of 95 watts, just like their predecessors. But the company released several other models for specific customers that vary from the mainstream Opterons.
Generally, about three months after a new Opteron comes to market, AMD releases a high-efficiency "HE" version that's 400MHz slower but consumes only 55 watts. Hewlett-Packard and IBM buy full-speed models that consume only 68 watts and that are built into the companies' blade servers. And Sun Microsystems buys a model that's 200MHz faster and fits within a 120-watt envelope.
Later this year, AMD will introduce a new type of Opteron, the "Rev F" models, code-named Santa Rosa, Kerby said. Those models will include two major new features: Pacifica--virtualization technology that makes it easier to run multiple operating systems simultaneously in separate partitions called virtual machines--and Presidio, a technology to improve security.
The Rev F models also add support for a new memory technology, DDR2. Intel moved from conventional DDR (double data rate) to DDR2 earlier and is now moving from DDR2 to another technology called FB-DIMM (fully buffered dual inline memory modules). FB-DIMM uses the same memory modules as DDR2, but uses a new serial interface that transmits data over a small number of higher-speed electrical links rather than a larger number of parallel wires.
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