What does the back-to-school season have to do with server processors?
In a bid not to lose market share to Intel Corp. now that the chip giant has released its new generation of Xeon processors, Advanced Micro Devices reportedly wants to release its microprocessors with six cores already in June, according to unnamed server manufacturers. AMD does not confirm the rumours, but claims that it would release ultra low voltage quad-core AMD Opteron chips.
“What they are going to do is pull in the Istanbul launch towards the first half, specifically in June,” an unnamed server maker said in an interview with ChannelWeb web-site citing information from AMD communications department that was spread under non-disclosure agreement.
AMD does not confirm its intention to speed-up the release of AMD Opteron six-core. However, launching server chip in June may help AMD to win more contracts for back-to-school season, which would be especially important for the company that badly needs to improve its profits and revenues.
AMD’s six-core Opteron processors code-named Istanbul feature 6MB of L3 cache, dual-channel DDR2 memory controller and are compatible with socket F infrastructure. The only tangible improvement over the quad-core Shanghai processors that the Istanbul chips have (besides increased amount of cores) is HyperTransport Assist feature, which works the same way as Intel’s snoop filter inside high-end chipsets for Intel Xeon processors (keeps cache coherency traffic between the two sockets from appearing on the external bus).
Drop-in compatibility of Istanbul processors with existing infrastucture allows makers of current-generation servers to install higher-performance chips into existing machines and increase their performance-per-watt without any substantial investments into development. It should be noted that since Istanbul chips are still made using 45nm fabrication process, they will not be able to reach the same clock-speeds as quad-core chips.
Despite being tight-lipped over the launch of six-core chips, AMD said last week that within the following three months it would launch quad-core AMD Opteron EE processors. Such Shanghai chips are likely to have 30W – 45W power envelopes and significantly boost performance of low power servers.