AMD Updates Opteron Processor Lineup with Energy-Efficient Chips

Advanced Micro Devices is updating its line of 45-nanometer Opteron processors with five new energy-efficient models that work within 55-watt thermal envelopes. In addition, AMD is rolling out a pair of high-performance, 45-nm Opteron processors that run at 2.8GHz. The new offerings expand AMD's line of 45-nm Opteron processors, formerly, known as "Shanghai," which first came to the market in November.

Advanced Micro Devices is expanding its line of 45-nanometer processors to include five new energy-efficient models and a pair of high-performance chips running at 2.8GHz.

AMD plans to officially announce the seven new Opteron processors Jan. 26, although these models have been shipping to the company's OEM partners and customers since the beginning of the month.

The seven processors help expand AMD's line of 45-nm Opteron processors that the company first introduced in November under the code name "Shanghai." These Opteron processors feature four processing cores and 6MB of Level 3 cache that all four cores share; all four cores also each have 512KB of dedicated L2 cache.

The new Opterons come at time when AMD and Intel have watched enterprises and midmarket businesses cut back on their purchases of hardware, especially PCs and server systems, as the United States deals with a recession that picked up steam in September, especially within the financial and banking communities.

In response, OEMs have cut back their production of PCs and servers, which means Intel and AMD have a backlog of processors in their sales channels. As a result, AMD and Intel have announced a number of price cuts. Intel cut prices on a number of its processors just after the release of its fourth-quarter earnings report, while AMD reduced the prices of its brand-new Phenom II chips for high-end desktops and gaming machines.

AMD spokesmen have not indicated whether the company plans to cut the prices of its Opteron processors.

The five energy-efficient AMD Opteron models all work within 55-watt thermal envelopes-the first batch of 45-nm Opterons used 75-watt thermal envelopes-and the processors are designed to work with two-, four- and eight-socket systems. The processors include the Opteron 8376 HE (2.3GHz), 8374 HE (2.2GHz), 2376 HE (2.3GHz), 2374 HE (2.2GHz) and 2372 (2.1GHz).

The starting prices for these processors run from $1,514 for the Opteron 8376 HE chips to $316 for the Opteron 2372 HE microprocessors. All prices are calculated in 1,000-unit shipments.

In addition to these five processors, AMD is offering two high-performance models that offer a top clock speed of 2.8GHz, which is faster than the clock speeds offered with the original 45-nm Opterons. (AMD is expected to crank its 45-nm Opteron processors up to 3GHz within the next few months.)

The Opteron 8386 SE processor and Opteron 2386 SE chip work within 105-watt thermal envelopes. The Opteron 8386 SE sells for $2,649 when bought in 1,000-unit quantities, while the Opteron 2386 SE retails for $1,165, according to AMD.

Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems, along with several smaller IT vendors, are expected to offer systems built around these new Opteron processors.

"These processors basically fill out the 2P, 4P and 8P products," said John Fruehe, AMD's worldwide business development manager for Server and Workstation Products.

"We had the standard products that were introduced in November, so this will fill out the lineup and give [customers] a standard model, a low-power and a high-performance part," Fruehe added. "As we get into the latter part of this year, you'll see us bring out our -Istanbul' product, and those will be six-core processors and those will also fit in the same 1207-socket [Socket F], and so the customers that have a 'Barcelona' [65-nm Opteron] system can also take advantage of a Shanghai part or the upcoming Istanbul processor."

In the competitive landscape, these AMD processors are expected to compete against Intel's 5400 series Xeon processors formerly called "Harpertown."

While these Opteron processors have the same circuitry as the first set of 45-nm processors, AMD plans to offer customers a BIOS update that will allow systems to cap the clock speed of the processor.