AMD ratchets up Athlon MP server chip

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) bumped up the performance of its Athlon MP processor line Tuesday with additional cache, the company said in a statement.

The Athlon MP 2800+ features 512KB of Level 2 cache, double the amount found on previous Athlon MP chips. Larger amounts of cache allow a larger amount of frequently accessed instructions to be stored close to the CPU, decreasing the time needed to access those instructions.

Under its model-number rating scheme, AMD was able to increase the performance rating of the new chip due to the cache increase, even though the Sunnyvale, Calif., company kept the clock speed of this chip at 2.133GHz, the same as the Athlon MP 2600+.

Much of AMD’s recent attention to the server market has been behind its brand-new Opteron chip, which is the company’s highest performing 32-bit processor as well as its only 64-bit processor. Opteron can run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications on the same processor using extensions to the x86 instruction set.

But Opteron requires a totally new hardware design for its chipsets and motherboards, while the Athlon MP is based on the tried and true Socket A infrastructure, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight 64 in Saratoga, Calif. AMD’s chipset and motherboard partners have had to develop brand new designs for Opteron, while they can use older designs for the Athlon MP line, he said.

Customers who are wary about moving to untested technology might prefer the Athlon MP 2800+, which is a cost-effective product for number-crunching applications, Brookwood said.

The new chip is priced at US$275 in quantities of 1,000 units. It will be immediately available in servers from system builders worldwide, AMD said.

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