AMD Launches New, Faster Opteron Processor

Opteron processor

Now shipping, the Socket F Opteron processors are AMD's first to add virtualization acceleration and DDR2 memory. Rival Intel has been offering virtualization acceleration in some of its server chips since earlier this year and released new server chips based on its new, faster and more efficient Core architecture last month. Those Xeon Woodcrest processors also include virtualization acceleration and jumps to a new memory technology called Fully Buffered DIMMs.

AMD, Sunnyvale, Calif., has been touting the new server processors as sharing the same socket as its forthcoming quad-core processor. So customers that buy dual-core now will be able to upgrade many of their systems to quad-core by simply swapping out the CPU, said Brent Kerby, product marketing manager for AMD's servers and workstations.

Intel, Santa Clara, Calif., plans to roll out its own quad-core processor later this year—taking two of its dual-core processors and packaging them together—but Kerby said AMD doesn't mind being second to market since the chip maker believes its native quad-core design will offer customers better performance.

"We wanted to have native quad-core out of the gate," Kerby said. "We don't have any of the burdens of going to a multichip module."

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AMD recently completed the design of the quad-core processor, Kerby said. That means AMD believes it has finalized the design and now can proceed to its testing phase, he said.

Tau Leng, director of marketing at SuperMicro, San Jose, Calif., said AMD's new processors offer an easy migration path for customers. The new Socket F motherboards and their accompanying chipsets will be able to accept an AMD quad-core processor. Intel currently isn't offering motherboards for its Xeon Woodcrest processors that can be upgraded to its quad-core module, Leng said, but SuperMicro expects to get a chipset upgrade that will rectify that.

AMD's actual launch came a few weeks later than the widely broadcasted expected launch date of Aug. 1, according to several system builders. Kerby said AMD wasn't having any technical problems with its server chips, but was simply waiting for all of its partners to signal their readiness.