AMD Six-Core -Istanbul' Processor Slated for Second Half of '09 Release

Advanced Micro Devices is looking to offer its first six-core processor, currently codenamed "Istanbul," by the second half of 2009. AMD has been demonstrating the new processor, which uses the same socket and thermal envelope as the current crop of 45-nm AMD Opteron processors. This AMD processor will compete against the likes of Intel's six-core Xeon chip.

Advanced Micro Devices is preparing to ship a new six-core processor, currently codenamed "Istanbul," by the second half of 2009, as the chip maker look to capture a higher share of the two- and four-socket server market.

While AMD announced only a few specifics of Istanbul, the company issued a brief statement Feb. 25 that said it had finished some early demonstrations of the six-core processor and that it would begin to ship in the second half of 2009.

The AMD Istanbul is expected to be socket compatible - Socket F (1207) - with the current crop of 45-nanometer Opteron processors. In addition, Istanbul works within the same thermal envelope as current Opteron chips. AMD is expected to make the Istanbul available for two-, four- and even eight-socket server systems.

"As a processor, Istanbul also bridges two worlds, the socket 1207 that has been such a strong platform in the past, and a 6-core Direct Connect architecture, with 12, 24 or 48 cores per server for the future," John Fruehe, the director of Business Development for AMD's Workstation and Server Division, wrote in a blog post.

A YouTube video of the AMD Istanbul demonstration can be found here and additional photos can be seen here.

AMD did not talk about specific performance numbers for Istanbul or offer details about whether it would expand the cache sizes with the new processor. When AMD rolled out new 45-nm processors in November, engineers increased the Level 3 cache to 6MB and all four processors with current Opteron processors each have 512KB of dedicated L2 cache.

Right now, the highest performing, 45-nm Opteron processors run at 2.8GHz.

While AMD has struggled financially in the last two years, the company has still managed to hold its own against Intel when it comes to high-end servers, especially four- and eight-socket system. However, Intel has already released its own six-core Xeon processor and Intel is looking to continue to press its advantage by offering new chips based on its Nehalem microarchitecture in the coming months.

Besides the new six-core processor, AMD is planning to launch a new server platform in the later part of 2009 called "Fiorano." This platform will use the company's 45-nm chip, fully support the AMD's own chip-to-chip interconnect technology called HyperTransport 3 and offer a new virtualization technology called IOMMU, which allows for virtualization of the system's I/O traffic.