The launch of new Opteron processor family from AMD aroused significant changes in the processor market. Of course, it is still too early to talk about wide spreading of Opteron processors, however, the public has been following very carefully everything that has to do with the new AMD Opteron CPUs.
Dual-processor servers built on AMD Opteron processors have already been tested by a great lot of different web-sites all over the world and many reviewers arrived at the conclusion that the newcomer from AMD suits very well for server applications. However, AMD positions its product not only for server use. They also claim that Opteron can find its way in workstations. Here we have to say that Opteron can boast pretty nice computational power, as it is a direct successor to Athlon architecture. It is exactly due to its computational capacity, that the new Opteron can turn out useful for complex calculations as well as for professional OpenGL applications and rendering tasks. Anyway, we wouldn’t deny the possibility to use Opteron in workstations.
If you take a look at the screenshot taken from AMD’s official materials, you will see that uniprocessor workstations are also considered to be one of the target markets for AMD Opteron processors.
As we see, AMD positions Opteron as a competitor to Pentium 4 in the Low-End uniprocessor workstations. However, we have to point out that right after the processors came into the market, there turned up some problems with the practical use of Opteron CPUs in workstations. The thing is that there appeared to be no mainboards in the market, which would support both: the new AMD Opteron CPUs and AGP graphics cards at a time. The major problem with this shortage was connected with the only chipset for Opteron processors available in the market in those days. It was AMD-8000, which simply didn’t allow installing external AGP graphics cards. To be more exact, this chipset did have an AMD-8151 tunnel, although AMD decided to postpone the supplies of this chip for some reasons. As a result, the mainboards based on AMD-8000 were deprived of the AGP port and hence they couldn’t be used in graphics workstations. This is actually the reason why AMD is now focusing on promotion of Opteron processors for web-servers and database servers, which do not need any high-performance graphics accelerators.
However, NVIDIA decided to help AMD out. NVIDIA has been long known as AMD’s powerful ally. For example, nForce2 chipset for AMD Athlon XP platform is the today’s fastest and most popular solution. So, NVIDIA decided to help AMD to get into the uniprocessor graphics workstations market and introduced their chipset for Opteron processors. This chipset is the new nForce3 professional, which was officially launched together with the one-way AMD Opteron CPU version belonging to 1XX family. In other words, we can state that the new generation uniprocessor graphics systems started coming into the market.
In this article we are going to figure out what the uniprocessor Opteron based systems are capable of, what the peculiarities of the new NVIDIA nForce3 Professional chipset are, what is typical of mainboards based on this chipset and how fast the uniprocessor workstations with AMD Opteron inside will be.