On Monday, Advanced Micro Devices shipped its latest generation of processors with cloud-computing and dense-computing environments in mind. The new six-core Opteron EE processor, code-named Istanbul, promises increased performance in the same 40-watt ACP power band as previous generations.
AMD said the Opteron EE delivers up to 31 percent higher performance per watt over standard quad-core AMD Opteron processors. The six-core processor is tailored to meet the demands of customers who need strong performance but also need to cut every watt possible in a server system and reduce a data center's power draw.
Focus on Power Management
Patrick Patla, vice president and general manager at AMD's Server and Workstation Division, said it's important for the chip industry to look at how technology is being used and where customers have emerging needs. That's what AMD did with its Opteron EE.
"The AMD Opteron EE processor enables OEMs to deliver energy-sipping servers that don't compromise on power management, virtualization or performance features," Patla said. "It is specifically designed to help address the challenges that are generating a great deal of discussion these days -- building and running very dense data centers for Web services while doing more with less."
According to AMD, many customers requiring this very low-power processor deploy dense, large-scale IT projects where system power trumps raw performance and every watt of power savings can have a significant positive impact on the bottom line.
With the Opteron EE, AMD now offers 15 low- and very-low-power server processors. Like AMD's other low-power processors, the Opteron EE is available with AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) technology and AMD-P features for advanced virtualization and power-savings capability.
AMD said the 40W ACP processor is being integrated in custom solution programs and will be available from system builders for cloud and Web 2.0 customers where density and low power are key considerations.
Competing with Intel
"The Opteron EE is something AMD needs in order to remain competitive. It also addresses a critical issue in the HPC/supercomputing environments where AMD remains a popular option," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "What we're seeing and will continue to see is platforms being designed to appeal to and maximally support increasingly densely virtualized data centers and infrastructures."
In aggregate, King said, those environments can potentially consume huge amounts of power. Therefore, maximizing energy efficiency at the chip level -- where a large portion of power is consumed -- is critical.
"We've seen that same focus in Intel's Xeon 5500 -- Nehalem," King said. "I also expect to see energy efficiency playing a greater and greater role as AMD and Intel's OEMs bring new systems to market."
Intel plans to launch its eight-core Nehalem processors in the first quarter of 2010. Intel currently holds about 90 percent of the server-processor market.