AMD's 'Shanghai' Processor Will Emphasize Virtualization, Energy Efficiency

When Advanced Micro Devices officially releases its 45-nm "Shanghai" processor on Nov. 13, the chip maker will emphasize the microprocessor's ability to handle virtualization as well as the chip's energy efficiency traits. This latest AMD Opteron processor is likely to compete against the current crop of Intel Xeon processors, especially within the market for two- and four-socket servers. In addition to the engineering improvements, AMD is betting that Shanghai will help return some financial stability to the company and offer a more compelling processor to counter Intel's offerings.

Advanced Micro Devices is poised to officially release the new 45-nanometer version of its Opteron processor line-formerly called "Shanghai"-Nov. 13, and AMD plans to emphasize the chip's energy efficiency traits and its ability to handle virtualization workloads.

When Shanghai launches during the company's annual meeting with financial analysts Nov. 13, AMD will bring a total of nine new Opteron processors into the market for two- and four-way server systems. The clock speeds will fluctuate from 2.3GHz on the low end to 2.7GHz on the high end.

The prices for the new 45-nm Opterons will range from $377 for low-end parts to $2,149 for high-end chips. AMD is also planning to keep the pricing aggressive, especially compared with the previous generation of 65-nm Opteron processors. For example, the newer Opteron 8380 chip running at 2.5GHz is priced at $1,514, which is the same price as the older 65-nm Opteron 8356 processor running at 2.3GHz.

All prices are calculated in quantities of 1,000-unit shipments.

For images of Shanghai's features, click here.

The new 45-nm Opteron processor lineup will include five chips for two-socket servers: the Opteron 2384 (2.7GHz), Opteron 2382 (2.6GHz,) Opteron 2380 (2.5GHz), Opteron 2378 (2.4GHz) and Opteron 2376 (2.3GHz). The prices for these chips will range from $989 to $377.

For four-way and eight-way systems, AMD will offer four new Opterons: the Opteron 8384 (2.7GHz), Opteron 8382 (2.6GHz), Opteron 8380 (2.5GHz) and Opteron 8378 (2.4GHz). The prices for these microprocessors range from $2,149 to $1,165.

In addition to shrinking the die size from 65 nm to 45 nm, which allows AMD to make smaller chips that use less power and enables the company to manufacture the processors at a lower cost, AMD has included a number of new features in Shanghai. These include 6MB of Level 3 cache that all four cores share. In addition, all four processing cores will each have 512KB of dedicated L2 cache. The new Opterons also include some AMD standards, such as the integrated memory controller and support for DDR2 (double data rate 2) memory.

Since the first of these Opteron processors are slated for two- and four-way systems, AMD is planning to emphasize the chips' ability to handle virtualization. In addition to the technology found with its AMD-V offering, the company is adding features such as Rapid Virtualization Indexing, which uses hardware to manage the virtual memory, and Tagged TLB (Translation Lookaside Buffer), which allows for faster switching between virtual machines.