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Advanced Micro Devices, the world’s second largest maker of x86 microprocessors, is projected to release its new chip for servers on Monday, the 14th of February. It is claimed that in addition to higher clock-speed the new Opteron will sport higher-speed HT bus as well as SSE3 technology.

AMD Preps New Opteron

The forthcoming AMD Opteron processor 252 will be clocked at 2.60GHz, will incorporate dual-channel PC3200 memory controller, 1MB of cache and SSE3 technology, something that only Intel Corp.’s chips have sported so far. The upcoming Opteron chip will also sport 1000MHz HyperTransport bus, a speed boost over contemporary AMD Opteron products with 800MHz HT bus, according to CNET News.com web-site. The new chip for servers and workstations will be produced using 90nm SOI process technology.

SSE3 is an instruction set found in Intel Pentium 4 processors code-named Prescott. SSE3 includes 13 new instructions developed for some specific tasks. While guidelines that allowed software makers to take advantage of the SSE3 emerged in mid-2003, actual programs that take advantage of the SSE3 today is not large.

Due to higher speed HT bus it is unclear whether AMD Opteron 252 and its possible derivatives – AMD Opteron 152 and 852 as well as higher-speed models – are drop-in compatible with existing infrastructure based on AMD8000-series of chips. AMD has consistently stated that its future Opteron products, including dual-core products, would be compatible with servers, workstations and mainboards build upon AMD8000-series logic that officially supports only 800MHz HyperTransport bus. AMD declined to comment on the current news-story.

AMD’s 90nm Ramps Up

Advanced Micro Devices started to ship its AMD Opteron processors produced using 90nm process technology, following initiated shipments of desktop and mobile products made at 90nm SOI fabrication process, in mid-December, 2004.

According to a document located at AMD’s web-site, the company now ships AMD Opteron models 146, 246, 248 and 846 for 1-way, 2-way and 4/8-way systems. The chips are clocked at 2.0GHz – 2.20GHz and do not differ from the similar processors produced using 130nm Silicon-on-Insulator process technology in terms of performance and capabilities.

Up to then AMD supplied three flavours of desktop processors produced using innovative 90nm process technology: AMD Athlon 64 3000+, AMD Athlon 64 3200+ and AMD Athlon 64 3500+ chips that function at 1.80GHz, 2.00GHz and at 2.20GHz respectively, pack in 512KB of L2 cache and feature 1000MHz HyperTransport bus. Higher-end processors, such as AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 4000+, FX-53 and FX-55 were still produced using 130nm process technology. With the 90nm AMD Opteron hitting 2.60GHz, customers can expect high-speed 90nm desktop parts as well.

A recently released “AMD Athlon 64 Processor Power and Thermal Data Sheet” document claims the new 90nm chips have Thermal Design Power of 67W under full load, and about 21W in the so-called “Cool’n’Quiet” mode under minimum load with about 1.00GHz clock-speed. AMD’s 130nm chips devour up to 89W at full load and about 22W under minimum load at 800MHz. AMD Opteron have the same thermal specifications as similar AMD Athlon 64 chips.

Intel to Add Cache, AMD – a Core

Intel Corp. expected to release its Intel Xeon processors for 2-way servers and workstations that will also have EM64T, EIST and EDB capabilities in addition to 2MB cache size shortly. Previously such chips were code-named Irwindale. The new Intel Xeon processors will not receive any tangible clock-speed boosts and will still be clocked below 4.0GHz, but given that server applications typically benefit significantly from larger cache sizes, the new chips may receive a warm welcome from the server makers.

In mid-2005 Sunnyvale, California-based Advanced Micro Devices plans to introduce server chips with two processing engines, typically referred as cores. The chips will reportedly consume 30-95W at launch and up to 105W of power eventually, which is inline with guidelines AMD provides for its 90nm chips. Intel Corp. is expected to release its dual-core processors for servers only in 2006.

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