AMD Pushes 'Budapest' to Market

The latest Opteron chip from AMD is a quad-core processor designed for single-socket servers.

Now that "Barcelona" is here, Advanced Micro Devices is turning its attention to "Budapest."

The chip maker plans to unveil three new quad-core Opteron processors for single-socket servers this week at the 2008 Computex conference in Taiwan. The chips, developed under the code name "Budapest," will fill out the company's quad-core Opteron portfolio, which ran into a series of problems related back to 2007, when the company found a design flaw in the original silicon.

On June 2, AMD plans to begin shipping three additional chips within the Opteron 1300 series. These will include the quad-core Opteron 1352 (2.1GHz), the Opteron 1354 (2.2GHz) and the Opteron 1356 (2.3GHz) models. Each of the chips will contain the same 512KB of Level 2 cache per core as the other Opteron chips, and all four cores will share 2MB of L3 cache.

The most significant technical difference between the Budapest and Barcelona chips is that Budapest processors will use AMD's HyperTransport 3 technology-a high-speed chip-to-chip interconnect-while the Barcelona processors utilize HyperTransport 2.

Hewlett-Packard is expected to use Budapest chips in some of its single-socket servers as well as a workstation, while Dell is planning to offer the processors in one of its systems. Cray, the well-known manufacturer of supercomputers, used the chips last month to upgrade its "Jaguar" supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Budapest Is AMD's Single-Socket Chance

While Cray is using the chips for high-performance computing, Steve Demski, an AMD marketing manager, said these Opterons are geared for the lower end of the enterprise market as well as midmarket businesses and even SMBs (small and midsize businesses) that look to buy less expensive servers.

The release of Budapest is also a chance for AMD to jump back into the game against Intel in the single-socket server space. While AMD and its original single- and dual-core Opterons did well in the MP (multiprocessor) market, Intel continues to dominate the single-socket system market.

"This is still a new market for us, and we think there is growth there, especially within the channel and with the non -Tier One vendors," Demski said.

The first of the Budapest processors will be manufactured on a 65-nanometer process before switching to a new 45-nm process by the first half of 2009. That chip, dubbed "Suzuka," will fit within a different socket-AM3-use the company's HyperTransport 3 technology and support DDR3 (double data rate 3) memory. (The current chips support DDR2.)

While customers could wait until the new chip is released, Demski believes most will pick up on Budapest, since the users of these chips buy and replace systems for their businesses on an annual basis.

The prices for the Budapest chips start at $377 for the Opteron 1356, $255 for the Opteron 1354 and $209 for the Opteron 1352. All of those prices are based 1,000-unit shipments.