AMD Unveils Opteron 4000 Series for Cloud, Scale-Out Environments

AMD is targeting its latest Opteron family of chips at cloud and hyperscale computing environments, where great demand is placed on performance, energy efficiency and low cost. AMD officials also said that the Opteron 4000 processors also meet similar demands they are hearing from SMBs.

Advanced Micro Devices is rolling out its latest Opteron processor family, a group of energy-efficient, low-cost chips aimed at cloud and hyperscale computing environments.

The four- to six-core Opteron 4000 series, codenamed "Lisbon," is aimed at servers and workstations with one and two sockets.

The nine chips, announced at the GigaOm Structure conference in San Francisco, are designed to address the demands of businesses that buy a lot of servers to run massive numbers of relatively small jobs. These companies are looking for high performance, reduced power and cooling costs, and low prices, according to Gina Longoria, director of product management of AMD's Server and Workstation Division.

"This [new family of processors] is very focused on energy efficiency and cost," Longoria said in an interview, noting that prices for the chips are as low as $99 per 1,000 unit. "These companies are buying tens of thousands of servers at a time."

AMD's release of the Opteron 4000 series-which together with the March launch of the eight- to 12-core Opteron 6000 "Magny-Cours" chips for higher-end systems completes a refresh of the Opteron server line-comes as more attention is being paid to the system demands from cloud and scale-out computing businesses like Amazon and Google.

"We see the cloud sector of the [server] market growing much faster than the market rate," Longoria said. "[These companies] continue to grow and add servers all the time."

A number of startups have made moves in this area with chip and server designs aimed at giving cloud computing environments the performance they need while driving down power and operational costs. SeaMicro on June 14 introduced a server platform that can scale up to 512 Intel Atom cores. Tilera, with ODM partner Quanta, introduced a server June 22 that also can pack 512 Tilera cores. In addition Tilera officials, who currently have 36- and 64-core chips on the market and plan to release a 100-core processor in 2011, say they will launch a 200-core chip in 2013.

Officials with both companies argue that cloud and Web-based computing environments run large amounts of relatively simple workloads, so they need many more servers than in traditional data centers, thus the demand for greater energy efficiencies and lower costs.

It's a point that Margaret Lewis, product marketing director at AMD, made in a June 21 AMD blog.

"The explosion of digital data is fundamentally changing the dynamics of how servers are built, bought and deployed," Lewis wrote. "The days of just throwing -raw' performance at the problem are long gone and the era of efficient computing with servers that balance price, performance and power is officially upon us."

AMD's Longoria said that the same attributes that make the Opteron 4000 series attractive to these type of computing environments also meet the demands coming from SMBs.

The Opteron 4000 chips come in at power bands of 32, 50 and 75 watts, and reduce power consumption up to 24 percent over the previous generations. Businesses can now fit in more than twice the number of servers into the same power budget as previous Opteron generations.

The chips also support Low-Voltage DDR 3 memory DIMMs

Price also is key, Longoria said. Pricing for the Opteron 4000 series ranges from $99 to $698.

The new chips also will protect businesses' current investment by supporting AMD's upcoming "Bulldozer" core, which is planned for 2011, Longoria said.

AMD officials said they expect a host of new systems based on the Opteron 4000 series platform will be coming from the likes of Dell, Acer, SuperMicro, TSI and others.