AMD adds horsepower to server processors with new 16-core chip

New Opteron server processors get a 100MHz speed boost but consume the same power as other Bulldozer chips

Advanced Micro Devices said Monday that it has added more horsepower to its chip lineup with new 16-core Opteron server chips based on the Bulldozer microarchitecture.

The new 16-core Opteron 6284SE chip will come with a clock speed of up to 2.7GHz, which is faster than the prior 6200 series that maxed out at 2.6GHz. The chip is faster but draws the same amount of power than comparable Opteron 6200 series chips, said Michael Detwiler, product marketing manager at AMD.

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The company also introduced the 16-core Opteron 6284 chip, which has a clock speed of 2.4GHz. The new Opteron chips are aimed at high-performance computing and demanding applications such as databases, Detwiler said.

The large number of cores will help data centers by allowing them to efficiently deploy more virtual machines, Detwiler said. For example, Hewlett-Packard is putting the new chips in the ProLiant BL465c Gen8 blade server, which will offer more than 2,000 processor cores per rack. HP will also release the ProLiant DL385p rack server with the new chips. In addition, Dell will refresh its PowerEdge servers with the new chips, according to AMD. Prices for the new HP and Dell servers were not immediately available.

AMD competes in the server market with Intel, which recently started shipping its Xeon E5 server chips, code-named Romley, for servers. HP and Dell have already implemented Romley chips in servers.

Intel has made many throughput improvements in the new Romley chips, such integrating PCI-Express 3.0 at the chip level. AMD's new chips do not support the latest PCI Express protocol yet, but the technology will be supported in future chips, Detwiler said. PCIe 3.0 is limited to high-performance computing, and CIOs are probably not looking at that technology now, Detwiler said.

AMD is showcasing the speed and throughput of Opteron in supercomputers like the Jaguar, the world's third-fastest, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee. An upcoming upgrade to the supercomputer called Titan will couple AMD's 16-core Opteron 6200 CPUs with Nvidia's Tesla graphics processors. ORNL is gunning for the supercomputer performance crown with Titan.

The Opteron 6284SE draws 140 watts of power and is priced at $1,265 for 1,000 units. The Opteron 6278 draws 115 watts of power and is priced at $989.

AMD also announced Opteron 4200 series chips with up to eight cores for tasks such as those involved in cloud computing. The chips operate at speeds of up to 3.4GHz and are priced from $316 to $455.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's email address is agam_shah@idg.com

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