AMD Announces 6 And 12-core Opterons

Sunnyvale (CA) - AMD has updated its server processor roadmap with single-die 6-core and dual-die 12-core Opteron processors. The new processors will be manufactured in a 45 nm process that will be introduced with the Shanghai quad-core later this year.

When Intel rolls out its Nehalem processors later this year, AMD appears to be better prepared than in late 2006 when Core began its triumph and until today pretty much wiped out all of the gains AMD Opteron has made in previous years. On the server side, AMD will counter Intel with the Shanghai quad-core CPU, which will be based on the current Barcelona technology, but will be manufactured in 45 nm and bring performance and power consumption benefits.

According to vice president Randy Allen, Shanghai will deliver about 20% more speed than Barcelona. While the chip will remain compatible with the current Socket F (1207) platform, the L3 cache will triple to 6 MB, 3-lane HT3 support will be integrated and DDR memory support will be extended to 800 MHz devices. AMD claims that the idle power consumption of the new CPUs will be 20% below their 65 nm counterparts.

Production of the 45 nm chip, which has been sampled to server vendors, is scheduled to begin late this year, while first products should be surfacing in Q1 2009. In the second half of that year, AMD plans to release a single-die 6-core Socket F processor code-named Istanbul. Offered for two- and four-socket systems, the chip will be clocked at lower clock speeds than the quad-cores.

A completely new platform (read: a departure from Socket F) is planned to be introduced in 2010. Called the "Maranello" platform, AMD will then transition to DDR3 memory and four HT3 lanes. The multi-socket processors will include the monolithic 6-core "Sao Paulo" with 6 MB of L3 cache, new hardware throttling and power management features, as well as the dual-die 12-core "Magny Cours" processor with 12 MB L3 cache. Both processors will be built in 45 nm. At least at this time AMD does not anticipate any Nvidia chipsets to support this platform and says that it will couple the CPU with its own RD890S and RD870S northbridges as well as the SB700S southbridge.

Eagle-eyed readers may wonder about those production dates. A late 2008 45 nm volume production of these processors matches the information we received from industry sources and would mean that AMD will put 45 nm into production just about one year behind Intel. Intel plans on introducing 32 nm processors in late 2009 and AMD now indicates that its Sao Paulo and Magny Cours processors will be manufactured in 45 nm in the first half of 2010, leading us to believe that 32 nm won’t arrive until the second half of the year in a best case scenario. This could mean that AMD keeps up with Intel, but won’t gain any ground on Intel in this discipline anytime soon.

Randy Allen responded to our inquiry by saying that this assessment would not be accurate as server processors do not reflect the entire product range of AMD. However, at least for 45 nm, we have credible sources indicating that 45 nm AMD CPUs won’t arrive before Q4 of this year. The 2010 processors are too far out to speculate whether Intel will deliver them at the end of 2009 and whether AMD will have any 32 nm chips available in Q1 2010. But clearly, at least for now, the 2006 promises AMD made to analysts aren’t likely to be kept.

Until Shanghai arrives, AMD will have to survive with its Barcelona quad-core and it is not surprising that the company touts the power-efficiency drum to compare itself favorably to competing Intel products. Allen claimed that AMDs 75 watt part Opteron 2356 saves about 20% of power when idle, 14% in high-load scenarios and 10% under full-load when compared to Intel’s (45 nm) 80 watt Xeon 5440. The executive also noted that the Opteron delivers on average 13% more performance than its Intel counterpart.

Those claims are based on five SPEC benchmarks as well as two fluid dynamics tests. It often depends on a very specific need that exploits a very specific capability of a processor as the results in each of those benchmarks can change dramatically. While AMD claims a 19% lead in SPECompMBase2001, a 13 and 19% in SPECfprate_base2006 and SPECfprate_2006, we were not able to verify the latter two results. In fact, official SPEC results indicate that at least one Intel Xeon 5440 systems is 29% and 26% ahead of the best performing Opteron 2356 system listed.

  • intels architectures are still better clock for clock... especially for everyday stuff, not like servers... amd still pwns in that place due to scalability
  • wild9
    I think that as soon as GPGPU technology makes an entrance, AMD is going to have the edge due to the scalability factor as mentioned by Thogrom. As for 2010..anything could happen, it's too far off to do anything other than speculate.
  • enyceckk101
    If AMD can do it , INTEL can also do it ( with better speed ).
  • Need I mention P4 vs. Athlon64? But you are correct what AMD can do Intel can do. Intel's schedule NEVER has been inline with AMD's. This shows how strong the competition is between them. Lets not forget core1 was a wash trying to catch AMD they had to redesign their (new) chip ie Core 2. Second Intel can outspend and out resource AMD any day. The only reason AMD may lose long term is simply the world's monetary system. If you don't see how that can impact business go read a book.
  • spearhead
    i expact the 45nm and larger cache will offer a vast improvement over todays barcelona based processors.
    6 and 12 cores would also be a good step ahead. i hope AMD has its awnser to the nehalem intime then
  • chaos23
    This just shows AMD isn't out of the competition yet. Kudos to AMD.
  • royalcrown
    BOOORING...I want a quad core I can put in my desktop @ 95 watts that doesen't SUCK hearing this..."barcellony" blows, especially at 95 watts !

    Also, I'd like it to be out before the core 4 architecture is EOL please !
  • iocedmyself
    My god, i could care less how much faster intel chips are theorhetically, because if anyone bothered to actually compare intel and amd's cheapest equally clocked chips, and AMD's most expensive vs intels...hell even intels $1500 chips against the near identical counterparts that cost 1/4 - 1/3 the price....THEIR PERFORMANCE IS BASED ON SYNTHETIC BENCHMARKS.

    When the QX6850 extreme edition came out at $1500, in real world benchmarks it was 10-35% then the $180 AMD dualcore....despite the QX having 4x the cache, 16% faster memory speed, and....what else...oh yes TWICE AS MANY CORES. Despite amd having 16% slower memory in that test....the 6000+ still had 25% better memory perforance. Even the QX6850 extreme compared to the Q6800....which was idenetical save for the extreme QX having a larger cache, averaged 20% faster then the Q6800....with only $1000 price difference.

    I don't deny intel has the faster chip....but not to the degree that everyone makes out. Synthetic performance doesn't mean anything. Intel still fails with memory performance pathetically, with AMD currently having 25 or so chips, ranging from dual core 939, to AM2/+ chips that have better memory performance than ALL of intels systems.

    AMD is still light years ahead in 64bit...because intel can't cut it in that area....they have 5 years ahead of intel, so when people actually are smart enough to use 64bit OS's and software with the 64bit cpu's and hardware they spend $1000's on intel won't look so pretty..and by the time they catch up there AMD will be ready with the 128bit systems or whatever the next-gen platform may be.

    AMD still owns the server side tech, which is what really matters as most money is derived from server sales, not desktop.

    I would rather spend $1000-1200 building an AMD quad core system with 8 gigs of ram and 4-way crossfire, overclock the hell out of it....and actually be able to upgrade my cpu then spend the same amount for an intel cpu and motherboard that has marginal performance gains, that will require a new cpu, motherboard, and ram when they release the same chip, with a different pin config and no tech changes aside from larger cache every 3 months.

    There is no software currently available outside of 3D animation, photo & movie editing that can take full advantage of ANY hardware released in the past year. Funnily enough, the corporate world that deals in bussiness that utilize those types of software, use AMD, because AMD excels in multithread compatible apps, more so in 64bit versions, they do it cheaper, and use less power as they do it too.

    So stop crying about the fact that intel chips can run FEAR or OBLIVIAN at 400FPS in XP and AMD can't....stop complaining about amd quad core performance when you're most likely running XP, or if you are running Vista it's 32bit...AND UPGRADE TO AN OS THAT TAKES FULL ADVANTAGE OF MULICORE CHIPS IN ALL APPLICATIONS AND ALLOWS FOR MORE THAN 2GIGS OF MEMORY.

    Every app i run in 64bit vista ultimate, 32 or 64bit splits the load across all cores....and my 3.6ghz OCed toledo corre 939 dual core AMD and 4 gigs of DDR running 640mhz still scores a hardware index of 5.9, and as much as i may want to upgrade to new hardware to play with, i by no means NEED to do so.

    AMD's equally clocked quad compared to intels equally, and cheapest between 5% slower and 10% faster....however the intel chip is 40% more stop listening to marketing, and get a clue. mmk?
  • crash27
    I have both the q6600 and the 9850 black they both cost within $10 of each other and after overclocking both of them as much as i could I must say that the intel chip is much faster. I mostly game with them and just so you know this is the first intell cpu I've got since my p3 800 mhz. 1800 amd 745, 2800 ghz amd 745, 3200 amd 939, 4800x2 amd 939, 6400x2 amd am2+.
  • justjc
    Damn I was looking forward to seeing Bulldozer in 2009, but with these news it seems I have to settle with Barcelona ver. 2 :( at least there should be less chance of them missing the launch date.
    Just for a short time I thought AMD might catch up before 2010...