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Advanced Micro Devices on Tuesday said that in a bid to boost sales of its lucrative microprocessors for servers it would start to ship its six-core AMD Opteron central processing units code-named already in May, 2009. The company needs the new chips as although it managed to improve sales of its microprocessors in Q1 2009, the company is still deeply unprofitable.

“I am pleased to announce that because of our strong engineering execution, we are pulling in revenue shipments of Istanbul into May, with systems availability in June,” said Dirk Meyer, president and chief executive officer of AMD, during conference call with financial analysts.

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.

Earlier this month AMD started a campaign that allows upgrading servers with socket F infrastructure originally launched in 2006 with dual-, quad- and six-core AMD Opteron processors with a discount. Channel partners and customers can receive up to a 35% discount in price ($50 off 2000-series, $100 off 8000-series) by upgrading the generation of their AMD Opteron processor.

AMD reported revenue for first quarter of 2009 of $1.177 billion. First quarter 2009 revenue was flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2008 ($1.162 billion) and decreased 21% compared to the first quarter of 2008. AMD reported a net loss attributable to AMD common stockholders of $416 million or $0.66 per share.

Sales of central processing units were up 7% to $938 million amid decrease of average selling price and increased amount of units sold, whereas sales of graphics processors were down 18% to $222 million amid declines in both units and average selling prices.

Tags: AMD, Opteron, Barcelona, Shanghai, Istanbul, 45nm

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