Advanced Micro Devices has announced its Opteron 6300 microprocessor, also known as the “Abu Dhabi” core.
The new Opteron chip, based on the new “Piledriver” core architecture, will compete with Intel’s Xeon chips on a combination of performance, power, and especially price. Over 30 platforms based on the new chip are expected from customers like Cray, Dell, HP, and SGI, said executives from AMD.
According to AMD, the 6300 represents roughly a 40 percent increase in performance per watt over the previous 6200 generation. However, the chips maintain the same thermal specifications and socket.
The 6300 scales up to 4 sockets with 16 cores, with clock speeds mixed and matched for single-threaded versus multiple-thread workloads: for example, the 6308 is a 4-core chip that runs at 3.4 GHz, while at the high end, the 6386SE runs at 2.8 GHZ with 16 cores. Power bands range from the 6366 HE (1.8 GHz, 16 cores, 85 watts) up to the 6386SE at 140 watts. All of the other chips run at 115 watts. Turbo Core can ramp up the clock speed by a few hundred megahertz where thermals allow. Four DDR-3 channels allow up to 1.5 TB of 1866-MHz RAM in 4P configurations. Each core links to 4×16 HT 3.0 connections.
AMD’s new Piledriver core also supports the Fused Multiple Add 3 (FMA3) instructions shared between AMD and Intel; Bit Manipulation Instructions from AMD and Intel, plus Trailing Bit Instructions from AMD for bit manipulatiion operations; and F16c floating-point conversions.
Is the Opteron 6300 What AMD Needs?
In August, AMD server chief Suresh Gopalakrishnan, sought out customers at the VMWorld show to convince them to come back to the fold. His ammunition? Tests that show AMD can save customers 30 percent per virtual machine.
Gopalakrishnan has been preaching the rise of heterogenous workloads. “Which means that these servers will not be one size fits all; there will be different kinds of processors going in there these clusters,” he said in June. “There will be some workloads where an energy-efficient CPU can do it, but that CPU cannot do your heaviest workloads.”
Can the new Opteron 6300 help AMD achieve more prominence in the data center? That’s an open question. AMD claims its Opteron 6386 SE achieves the highest SPECjbb2005 scores, measuring server-side Java, for both 2P and 4P configurations—and that the scores for the Opteron 6380, a $1,088 part, are essentially equal to the $2,057 Xeon E5-2690 using the STREAM, LAMMPS, and NAMD benchmarks. But TCO cost continues to be the watchword.
The new ARM chips don’t mean that AMD will adjust its Opteron roadmap, either, executives said.
“I don’t think we’re going to make any hard decisions on what we’re going to do with the bands, but we’re not going to abandon X86,” Michael Detwiler, a product marketing manager at AMD, said in an interview. “Some are going to be looking at…ARM. We want to give choice to the customers, and what they want. Just because you’ve got a customer that doesn’t want to look at an ARM solution and wants to stick with X86 doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care about power efficiency. Power is on top of everyone’s mind, but you need to weigh all of your options on what performance you need, what power you need, and what’s your budget.”