AMD, Intel to Ramp Up Performance, Cut Power

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2005-09-26

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp. continue making moves to increase the performance of their processors while controlling the amount of power they consume.

AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., this week is rolling out dual-core Opteron chips with a higher frequency than current chips.

The chip maker is releasing the 180, 280 and 880 models—for servers running one to eight processors—which offer up to 10 percent improvement in performance, said Randy Allen, corporate vice president for AMDs server products division. At the same time, the power envelopes for the 280 and 880 are remaining at 95 watts.

Click here to read more about Intels low-power chip designs.

Tweaks in the 90-nanometer production process are enabling AMD to bump up the frequency to 2.4GHz while keeping the power consumption stable, an important move for data center administrators looking to balance the use of smaller and more powerful servers with the thermal and power issues that can arise.

Steve Johnson, senior analyst for the mathematics department at Texas A&M University, said having more powerful processors that dont increase power consumption is important for people like him, who run clusters of systems.

"Having the same power without going overboard with the power is essential," said Johnson in College Station. "Running power to the center of a data center can get kind of pricey, particularly with a tight budget."

Johnson will be bringing on another midsize to large cluster within the next 18 months and plans to stick with Opteron-based systems, given their price/performance advantages over Intel systems.

For its part, Intel plans to reduce the power consumption of its chips right at the factory. The Santa Clara, Calif., company last week unveiled a plan to create a new version of its manufacturing process technology to yield a plan to create a new version of its manufacturing process technology and chip sets for notebooks, handhelds and other battery-powered devices.

The new process, which is based on its 65-nanometer manufacturing technology thats due to come online later this year, tweaks the way transistors and the wires that connect them are formed. Intel determined it could make relatively minor changes in its manufacturing process to help reduce leakage and help its product design teams create lower-power chips, said Mark Bohr, director for Intels process and architecture integration.

Still, the advent of the low-power chip manufacturing recipe, which Intel has dubbed P1265 and will be in place by 2007, marks a departure for the company, which, until now, has used a single manufacturing process to produce all its leading-edge chips.

John G. Spooner is a senior writer with

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