AMD unveils six-core Istanbul Opteron HE, SE

Sunnyvale, Calif-based chipmaker AMD Inc rounded out its Istanbul portfolio with the release on Monday of two six-core processors, for power-constrained and power-hungry data centre environments.

“We are continuing the momentum with Opteron,” said Gina Longoria, senior product manager with AMD’s server workstation division.

Opteron HE is designed for those customers running Web 2.0 and cloud computing applications, and who are looking for a balance of performance and power optimization, said Longoria. Specifically, she said, the processor will render an 18 per cent higher performance per watt compared to standard power processors.

“It gives performance they need for their applications in the power envelope they need for the data centres,” said Longoria.

Opteron SE is for those “very performance hungry” compute intensive environments that are focused on virtualization and high-performance computing. According to Longoria, compared to AMD’s Shanghai processors, Opteron SE will give a more than 50 per cent increase in performance.

“We are continuing the momentum with Opteron,” said Gina Longoria.

While only three to five per cent of customers buy high-end processors like the SE, Longoria said the majority fall in the mid-range performance band.

Both HE and SE continue to offer the complete feature set across all power bands. “As you move down in power, you don’t have to compromise on the features that you have available with your processor,” said Longoria.

The new additions, Opteron HE and Opteron SE, continue AMD’s execution on Istanbul following the earlier than expected June release of its six-core Istanbul processor. “It was great to be able to execute well on Istanbul and pull the schedule in by five months,” said Longoria referring to the five-month early release of the six-core Istanbul in June.

AMD plans to launch later this quarter, an ultra low power Istanbul version of its Opteron EE offering. And, AMD has also said its 12-core Magny-Cours processor is slated for a 2010 release.

AMD’s release of Opteron HE and SE comes several months after Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp. announced its six-core Dunnington processor. Intel also recently revealed details on its eight-core Nehalem-EX server processor due in 2010.

According to Russ Conwath, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., AMD’s latest six core offerings – instead of just four cores – gives the option to either purchase less equipment for virtualization efforts, or be green by reaping compute power and spend less money on electricity and cooling.

While Conwath thinks the Opteron HE and SE places AMD in the front runner position in a “leap frog game” they continue to play, it certainly won’t be for long given the relationship between AMD and its rival Intel. “I don’t think anyone is going to put the other at a competitive disadvantage for very long before someone counters it,” said Conwath.

Conwath said for processor-agnostic customers who just want to save money, the inclination is to look at the product that has the “most number of cores for the same or less money that can fit into a form factor that saves me further dollars and cents.”

Acknowledging the myriad offerings that both Intel and AMD continue to put to market, the situation reminds Conwath of the pharmaceutical industry where vendors release many products, some of which will be successful, and others not. “And, hopefully with that whole R&D effort, you’re ahead of the game,” said Conwath.

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