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Opterons: 12-core in 2010, 16-core in 2011

While celebrating the Opteron processor's sixth anniversary, AMD offered a "glimpse" into the company's server platform roadmap, announcing that it plans to launch the six-core Opteron Istanbu processor in June. Fitting into the same platform as current quad-core Opteron processors, Istanbul will offer a 30-percent performance increase while using the same thermal envelope.

However, the company also revealed a few "meatier" Opteron offerings, complete with 12-core and 16-core versions expected to ship in 2010 and 2011 respectively. AMD said that a shift in consumer value has pushed the high-end server market into offering performance, expandability, and virtualization through more cores and scalability, thus resulting in the processors set to hit the server market within the next two years.

In 2010, AMD will launch the Opteron 6000 series for 2P and 4P servers, debuting on the G34 socket with the Maranello platform.  The 6000 is geared towards performance and expandability, best suited for virtualization, databases, and HTC. Not only will the Opteron 6000 series be based on a 45nm 8-core (2 socket) and 12-core (4 socket) Magny-Cours run, but also offer 4 channels of U/RDDR-3, and up to 12 DIMMs per socket.

2010 will also bring along the Opteron 4000 series for the 1P and 2P server market, using the San Marino platform along with AMD's 45nm 4-core and 6-core Lisbon processor. AMD said that its 4000 series is ideal for power efficiency and value, geared for cloud computing, HPC, file and print sharing, and more. The San Marino platform utilizes the C32 socket, 2 channels of U/RDDR-3, and up to 4 DIMMs per socket.

As for 2011, AMD is expected to release two processors for both platforms. 32nm 12 and 16-core Interlagos processors will be available for the 6000 series, based on the "Bulldozer" core; it too will fit right in with the Maranello platform. Additionally, the 4000 series will also receive a CPU upgrade with the 32nm 6- and 8-core "Valencia" processor, fully compatible with the San Marino platform.

According to charts provided by AMD, the Interlagos16-core processor will nearly triple in floating point performance when compared to the Istanbul 6-core processor released in June; the Magny-Cours 12-core processor, released next year, will only offer double the performance. When compared to the quad core released in 2008, the Magny-Cours 12-core processor will more than double the integer performance; the "Interlagos" 16-core processor will triple the performance.

Still, despite the charts and all the boasting, seeing is believing, and we'll just have to wait until next year to see if charts and figures turn out to be real hands-on numbers. However, with all this processing power, desktop owners may feel left in the stone ages. Try not to worry: the Bulldozer processor will also fall into mainstream consumer's hands sometime in 2011 as well.