AMD refreshes Opteron lineup, promises fast quad-core chip

Sunnyvale (CA) - AMD today announced a range of new socket AM2- and socket F-based Opteron processors. In another evolutionary step, the new CPUs are fine tuned towards increased power efficiency for 1P, 2P and 4P+ server and workstations systems. AMD also said that its first quad-core chip will surpass the performance of today's highest performing Intel quad-cores processors.

There is a total of ten new processors that are added to the current lineup of 25 different Opteron processors. AMD did not increase the clock speed (and mentioned that current performance levels of its Opteron processors are high enough to match Intel's Xeon 5100 series and even outpace its rival's processors in some benchmarks) but offers more options for server and workstation customers who consider power consumption as critical for their IT environment.

On the high-end, there are new 8220 (2.8 GHz, 4P+) and 2220 (2P) socket F processors, which drop the power consumption from 120 watts in the "SE" models to a more moderate 95 watts. The new socket AM2-based 1220 makes a significant drop as well, from 125 down to 103 watts.

For low power applications in the 4P and 2P space, AMD now offers "HE" versions of its 8218 and 2218 (2.6 GHz) models, which drop the thermal design power from 95 watts in current 8218/2218 models from 95 to 68 watts. Most AM2-based 1P Opteron processors (1210-1218) are now available in HE versions as well and offer a power consumption of 65 watts, which is down from 103 watts in the regular versions of these CPUs.

AMD's socket F Opteron processor

Pricing of the new processors is decidedly more aggressive than what we saw when the Opteron Rev F and AM2 processors were first introduced in August of 2006. The 8220 model sells or a tray price of $1514, which compares to an introductory price of the 8220 SE of $2649 and the 8218 of $2149. The entry-level Opteron 1210 HE is available for $168; for comparison, the first 1210 sold for a tray price of $255 last year.

These new processors will have the difficult task of fending off Intel's broadside attack with the Xeon 3000/5100/5300 series in the 1P and 2P server market and stabilize an market in which Intel apparently has been regaining market shares and increased average selling prices (ASPs), while AMD's ASPs are on the decline. AMD has been talking about its first quad-core server-chip, Barcelona, for quite some time, but it is unclear just how capable this processor will be.

However, AMD stressed that it will maintain its current power envelopes between 65 and 120 watts with Barcelona and now claims that the processor will outpace Intel's fastest quad-cores significantly. According to AMD, Barcelona will offer up to 42% more speed in server-specific benchmarks than Intel's Xeon 5355 model. The company expects to achieve "industry-leading performance across floating point applications."