AMD Releases Opteron 6100 Series Processors For Server Market

AMD on Monday launched several 12-core and 8-core server processors under its Opteron 6100 Series product family through its OEM and system builder partners.

AMD said the Opteron 6100 chips address low-power consumption requirements and target SMBs, public sector and enterprise users with a strong value proposition in terms of performance-per-price.

AMD's Opteron 6132 HE chip includes 8 cores running at 2.2 GHz with a 65 watt thermal design point (TDP), while the Opteron 6140 includes 8 cores running at 2.6 GHz with an 80 watt TDP. Among the new 12-core Opteron processors, AMD's Opteron 6166 HE runs at a frequency of 1.8 GHz and a 65 watt TDP, the Opteron 6176 runs at 2.3 GHz and an 80 watt TDP, and the Opteron 6180 SE runs at 2.5 GHz and a 105 watt TDP.

AMD said its OEM partners in the server space -- including Acer, Dell, and HP -- will launch new and refreshed systems featuring Opteron 6100 chips sometime in the first quarter.

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John Fruehe, director of product marketing for Servers and Workstations at AMD, on Friday spoke to CRN about opportunities AMD's Opteron server processors bring to channel resellers.

"The 12-core and 8-core Opteron chips are all going to drop into the platforms the guys in channel are buying today," Fruehe said. "If you're a VAR and you're reselling name-brand platforms like HP and Dell, all the OEMs you're purchasing from today have the ability to take advantage of these platforms. If you're on the system builder side you have products available today that are going to drop into those platforms, and it's very easy to upscale the platform you're already on today and get the same performance at the same or lower price."

Fruehe said AMD's performance in the market last year did not reflect its advantage in technology, but this year will be different as AMD's partners are all on board with its current platform.

"The last year has been a pretty tough year for us," he said. "When customers are unsure they tend to go with what they've been buying. AMD has had to go through a product transition during a tough economy, and that's a tough combination. But I don't get to control the macroeconomic conditions in the world."

In particular, AMD's market share fell 33 percent in the second quarter of 2010. However, Fruehe said AMD has dealt with the most difficult aspect of setting up its platform last year and that its competitor will have to do the same this year.

Next: AMD Anticipates Its Rival's Challenges

"From an OEM perspective or a channel perspective, we have everybody on the new platform, so that when the new processors come up there are fewer things that have to happen to get the product to market," Fruehe said. "Meanwhile, our competitors will have to go through product transition that AMD had to go through last year. We've done a lot of the heavy lifting in the platform, and our competition didn't have to do that last year. They got some benefit out of that, but they'll have to do that this year."

AMD says the Opteron 6100 series is geared toward Web serving, cloud computing and virtualization for verticals including financial services, database operation and high-performance computing.

Fruehe said servers running AMD's new chips outperform systems based on Intel's Intel Xeon processors in several key benchmark tests including SPECint_rate2006, SPECfp_rate2006, and TPC-C Value. He also said AMD's server products offer superior pricing compared to comparable Intel offerings.

"We're priced extremely well relative to the competition," Fruehe said. "AMD's top end 2P Opteron 6100 processors are 8 to 10 times less expensive than Intel's top-end 2P Xeon X56 top processors, and they're about 10 to 30 percent faster. Across the board, if you stack up Intel's Xeon line and AMD's Opteron line you find better value from AMD -- a lower price and better performance processor-to-processor."

In addition, Fruehe said AMD's Opteron line offers improved memory through-put and its 8-core processors actually provide 1.5 megabytes of cache per core, while the 12-core processors feature 1 megabyte cache per core, making the 8-core chips suited to certain compute-intensive applications. Fruehe said the 12-core chips also include lower clock speeds, but releasing both 8-core and 12-core options at the same time allows AMD to cover both corners of the market.

Fruehe also said AMD's Bulldozer APU core architecture, part of the AMD Fusion integrated graphics platform that launched last month, is on track to go into production in late Q2 and appear in the market in Q3 after having been sampled in Q4' 2010. Fruehe said AMD will sell Bulldozer products to system builders prior to the launch.

Based on the Bulldozer architecture, AMD's 16-core Interlagos APU and 8-core Valencia APU will offer a 50 percent improvement in memory throughput and a 50 percent improvement in compute throughput, according to AMD. Fruehe said those enhancements are due in part to the inclusion of more cores on the same 32-nm die, amounting to 33 percent more cores available at the same thermal and power ranges. In addition, each Bulldozer-based product will feature a 256-bit floating point and an AMD Turbo core with a performance boost of up to 500 MHz, Fruehe said.

Next: AMD's Product Timeframe And Pricing

Fruehe said AMD's processor products are on an 8-to-12 month product refresh cycle and that the Opteron 6100 series refresh will be followed by enhancements to AMD's entry-level server products, including the Opteron 4100 series processors.

AMD's Opteron 6166 HE is available through its partners at a starting price of $873, while the Opteron 6176 starts at $1,265, the Opteron 6180 SE starts at $1,514, the Opteron 6132 HE starts at $591, and the Opteron 6140 starts at $989.