AMD Targets Cloud-Based Servers With New Low-Power Opteron Chips


AMD Tuesday unveiled its Opteron 3200 series of low-power server processors, marking the most recent in a series of moves designed to strengthen the chip maker's position in the cloud-based server space.

The Bulldozer-based Opteron 3200 series is designed for use in one-socket, web-hosting servers, and is said by AMD to require 19 percent less power per core than Intel’s Xeon E3 series – without running up the price. In fact, the whole Opteron 3200 series was built around price optimization, Michael Detwiler, server product marketing manager at AMD, told CRN.

Detwiler said that the higher-end Opteron 6200 series is targeted at performance, while the Opteron 4200 family was designed specifically for low-power. The new 3200 series, however, is intended to slightly lower the bar in both of these areas, but do so at a lower point point.

[Related: AMD-SeaMicro Deal: Analyst's Good News, Bad News Scenario]

"These guys [in the web-hosting market] are looking for server class, performance, server features and functionality, but they need it a desktop-type price point," Detwiler said. Chips in the Opteron 4200 and 6200 series range from $125 to $377 and $266 to $1,019 respectively, while the Opteron 3200 series will be available for $99 to $229.

The Opteron 3200 line-up includes three processors: the four-core 3250 and 3260, and the eight-core 3280. The series can reach up to 2.7 GHz, hold up to 32GB of memory, and has a thermal display power (TDP) of 45W to 65W, AMD said.

According to Dewilter, AMD’s Bulldozer architecture and Opteron series of chips are all part of the company’s larger strategy to move into the cloud-based server market.

"The reason why AMD announced a cloud strategy and marked it as a focus for the server market is because we saw the inflection point coming," he said. "Cloud has been a buzz word, and something that people have talked about, for the last few years. But now we are starting to see the traction hit, and we’re starting to see customers integrate cloud as part of their overall data center strategy. And we really need to get into that inflection point."

The Sunnvale, Calif.-based company announced last month its plans to acquire microserver vendor SeaMicro, another strategic move intended to grow its footprint within the cloud data center space.

AMD CEO Rory Read stressed during the announcement that the pending acquisition, which is expected to close over the coming weeks, will put the company in a "compelling, differentiated position to attack the fastest growing segment of the server market."

Dewilter had the same message. "We announced the Bulldozer core architecture, we announced the 6200 and 4200 series back in November, [and] now we're announcing the 3200 series. And a couple weeks ago we announced the strategic investment of acquiring SeaMicro, which really goes out to the dense data center market and gets to all new levels of efficiency, both from a space and power standpoint," he said.

The merger will give AMD access to SeaMicro’s supercompute fabric technology, which connects thousands of processor cores, memory, storage, and I/O traffic onto a single board. AMD said that current systems featuring this fabric use only one quarter of the power and take up one sixth of the space used by traditional servers.