AMD Intros Opteron 6300 Series Piledriver-Based Server Chips

The new processors, code-named Abu Dhabi, offer greater performance and efficiency, and come a week after AMD said it will start building ARM-based server chips.

Advanced Micro Devices officials, a week after announcing that the company will soon start to make server chips based on ARM Holdings designs, is now unveiling its fastest x86-based Opteron server processors.

AMD on Nov. 5 rolled out the Opteron 6300 Series family of processors, aimed at performance-sensitive two- and four-socket servers running in virtualized and private and public cloud environments, big data systems and high-performance computing (HPC) clusters.

According to AMD officials, the new chips—ranging from four to 16 cores and based on the new Piledriver architecture—offer as much as a 40 percent improvement in performance-per-watt over the current Opteron 6200 Series Interlagos chips and a 24 percent improvement in performance. The new chips offer enterprises significant performance improvements, high energy efficiency and improved cost efficiency, according to Michael Detwiler, product marketing manager at AMD.

The chips, code-named Abu Dhabi, offer speeds of 1.8GHz to 3.5GHz, with speeds jumping to as fast as 3.8GHz when leveraging AMD’s Turbo Core technology.

The chips offer the combination of performance and power efficiency that is needed to deal with the key data center trends, from the growing adoption of cloud computing to the explosion of both structured and unstructured data to the parallel processing increasingly required in HPC and corporate data centers, Detwiler said.

Even the growth in the use of mobile devices is driving the need for fast, efficient servers, he said.

“Everybody has their smartphones, and they need their data now,” Detwiler told eWEEK.

The chips also include the AMD-P power management capabilities, AMD-V virtualization technology that offers high performance and a low cost per virtual machine, up to four memory channels and ultra-low-voltage 1.25v memory.

AMD officials said they expect servers from Dell and Hewlett-Packard powered by the Opteron 6300 chips to be available by the end of the year. Other vendors, including supercomputer maker Cray and SGI, announced support for the new processors Nov. 5. Cray officials said their XE6 and XE6m supercomputers can be ordered with the Opteron 6300 chips.

"We believe the new AMD Opteron 6300 Series processors will significantly improve the performance and efficiency for Cray customers upgrading their current Cray XE6 and Cray XE6m systems,” Peg Williams, Cray's senior vice president of high-performance computing systems, said in a statement.

SGI officials said their Rackable servers will now be available with the AMD processors.

AMD officials said the company will be releasing new Piledriver-based Opterons—the 4300 (code-named Seoul) and 3300 Series (Delhi)—in December.

The company is looking to recharge its server efforts as it tries to regain stronger financial footing. AMD, like other vendors closely tied to the struggling PC market, has been battered in recent quarters, and officials are eyeing the server business as a growth area. AMD officials see opportunity in power-efficient systems made for cloud, HPC and other hyperscale data center environments.

Along with continuing to improve the performance and drive down the power consumption of its x86-based Opterons, AMD is now looking to ARM’s upcoming ARMv8 architecture to expand deeper into the very low-power microserver space. AMD executives on Oct. 29 announced that AMD-built ARM-based chips will begin hitting the market by 2014.

They are looking to use the ARM-based chips and the technology—particularly the Freedom Fabric—inherited when AMD bought microserver maker SeaMicro in February for $334 million to become a key player in a segment of the server market that is small but is expected to grow over the coming years. ARM also has other server-chip partners—including Nvidia, Marvell Technologies and Calxeda—lined up, and chip giant Intel is expecting to leverage its Atom chips and interconnect technology acquired from QLogic and Cray for microservers.