AMD launches Opteron 252 and 852 processors

Sunnyvale (CA) - AMD heats up the race for the fastest 64-bit workstation and server processor with two models clocked at 2.6 GHz and targeted at two and up to eight-processor systems. Intel will bring its multiprocessor 64-bit Xeon chip into the game within "a couple of weeks".

The launch of the new Opterons comes about one week after Intel's announcement to bring its Xeon MP (multi-processor) as an extension of the existing 64-bit Xeon DP (dual-processor) to the market. The 252 and 852 chips support one-way and up to 8-way workstation and server systems and were announced in conjunction with the AMD-8132 HyperTransport PCI-X 2.0 tunnel. The chipset offers PCI-X 2.0 connectivity, increased throughput, improved RAS capabilities, robust data management and enhanced HyperTransport technology connectivity, AMD said.

The Opteron 252 and 852 processors are clocked with 2.6 GHz, integrate support for SSE3 software instructions as well as an increase in bus frequency to 1 GHz. The chips are priced at $851 (252) and $1514 (852) in 1000-unit quantities. The model 152, targeted at single-processorservers and workstations will be available on April 30 and will be priced at $637.

Scheduled to be available within a month and volume shipments beginning "this quarter", the 252 and especially the 852 go head to head in speed and features with Intel's Xeon DP and MP processors, before their dual-core versions hit the market. According to a statement, Opteron processors "will soon be enabled with AMD PowerNow! technology", an opportunity for the manufacturer to throttle frequency based on performance needs and decrease power consumption significantly. In a similar move, Intel announced its SpeedStep tech for the upcoming 64-bit Pentiums 6xx, and its just a matter of time, until the power management will also be available for the Xeon processor.

According to Phil Brace, Intel's marketing director for the firm's Digital Enterprise Group, the Xeon MP will debut as a single-core version in the framework of the Truland platform - which already is outfitted for dual-core processor designs. While dual-core Pentium 4s are confirmed to be shipped in the first half of this year, Xeons are still covered in a blurry cloud. We would expect the chips however to follow closely on the heels of the dual-core desktop series Smithfield that will receive the sequence number 8xx.

AMD has been quiet about a possible introduction date of the dual-core Opteron and says the chips should be expected by mid of this year. The chips would deliver at least 30 percent, and in best cases up to 55 percent more performance than their single-core counterparts, the company said last October. Clock speeds of the processors should be expected to come in at 600 to 1000 MHz lower than single-core processors.

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AMD: Dual-core tech accelerates Opteron by more than 30 percent