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Chip of the Year: Quad-Core AMD Opteron
Despite those issues, the CRN Test Center awards AMD Product of the Year in processors for its quad-core Opteron chip because it is a game-changer.
It's blazing fast, but efficient when measured in performance per watt. With servers and workstations based on Barcelona, enterprises can deploy technology that hums down the highway with the power of an SUV but offers the eco-friendliness of a hybrid.
Right before it was announced, Test Center engineers had the chance to run a dual-CPU Barcelona server through a PassMark performance test. It scored higher than any other dual-CPU system we've ever tested.
As they say on late-night informercials: Wait, there's more. Barcelona is socket-compatible with the dual-core Opterons. Both processors use AMD's socket F(1207) design. When it comes to heat-generation, the thermal load of the quad-core CPU is about the same as the dual-core Opteron. For solution providers and customers, that means the same heat sinks, cooling fans and power supplies can be used as in earlier Opteron systems. AMD engineered Barcelona so that customers can upgrade a dual-core Opteron to a quad-core with a BIOS upgrade and little else.
AMD, Sunnyvale, Calif., didn't stop there, though. The company built in its Cool Core technology—which automatically shuts down parts of a CPU, such as the floating point unit, when not in use. And of course, AMD has had its PowerNow technology, which controls the MHz at individual cores. So not only is it one of the best-performing pieces of silicon we've ever seen, it's among the smartest.
Editor's note: As this segment was being prepared, some server manufacturers had begun booking orders on systems built with AMD's Barcelona. AMD executives had said the processor would ship in volume by the middle of the fourth quarter. As this package went live, AMD confirmed to ChannelWeb that, while Barcelona had begun shipping in some quantities (by the hundreds of thousands), full-blown shipment would be delayed to the first quarter of 2008 due to an errata that is undergoing a fix. The errata did not impact our earlier testing, which found Barcelona to perform better than any server chip that CRN Test Center had ever examined.