AMD unveils low power Opterons ahead of Intel demo

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) released six new Opteron processors designed for low-power applications such as blade servers and clusters, AMD said Tuesday.

The new processors consume less power than the standard Opteron chips. This means they can be used in denser products such as thin blade servers or clustered workstations, AMD said.

The announcement comes right before the opening of the Spring Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, where Intel Corp. is expected to demonstrate a processor that adds 64-bit extensions to the 32-bit x86 instruction set. The Opteron processor has been the only processor on the market thus far that brings that capability to x86 servers, and has won the backing of server vendors such as IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

Two new categories of Opterons were unveiled Tuesday. The Opteron HE series consumes 55 watts of power, while the EE series consumes 30 watts of power. The standard Opteron chips unveiled last year consume more than 80 watts, with the high-end 148, 248, and 848 chips consuming 89 watts at 2GHz.

AMD markets the Opteron processors in three categories. The 100 series is designed for one-way servers and workstations, the 200 series is designed for two-way servers, and the 800 series is designed for four-way and eight-way servers.

A HE version and a EE version was announced in each category. In quantities of 1,000 units, the Opteron 840 EE and 846 HE both cost US$1,514, the Opteron 240 EE and 246 HE cost US$851, and the Opteron 140 EE and 146 HE cost US$733.

AMD is taking orders for the processors as of Tuesday, and will ship the chips worldwide within 30 days, it said.

Power consumption appears to be one of the most pressing issues for chip designers heading into the new year. Low-power designs dominated the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco Monday, where several companies showed off their next-generation designs.

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