AMD introduces new dual-core Rev F Opteron

Mark Fontecchio

Rev F Opteron: Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) plans to introduce its next line of Opteron dual-core processors for servers and workstations today, and says its quad-core chip due out next year will fit in the same socket and make for an easy upgrade.

The Rev F chip will be built into servers from major vendors, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), Dell Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc., which according to analysts, signals that AMD is a contender in the server chip marketplace.

Intel Corp. is still the lead chipmaker by far and recently introduced a new dual-core Xeon processor for servers to answer AMD's repeated blows. Intel also plans to release a quad-core chip by the end of this year, ahead of AMD's planned schedule.

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More on AMD vs. Intel:
Power vs. speed -- AMD goes after Intel

Intel to unveil Woodcrest

IBM to use AMD chips in more x86 servers

Dell to offer AMD chips in multiprocessor servers

The technology of a multicore chip basically allows two or four CPUs to be fit on one stretched piece of silicon.

But no matter the shape of the chip, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, what is important is the system that goes with it, and he thinks that's one of the reasons why AMD has made such headway.

"You're not buying the processor. You're buying the system. The processor plays a much smaller part in the buying decision. People tend to buy the product, and that's why the relationships AMD has built are so valuable," Enderle said. "[AMD] has been more responsive to the OEMs [original equipment manufacturere] than Intel has been."

Enderle did say that the threat from AMD has caused Intel to become more responsive. "They're recognizing the threat," he said.

AMD said that its new chip includes technologies to help data centers virtualize their server environments by allowing IT managers to parse out virtual machine memory off the processor. It has also committed to keeping its chips from generating no more than 95W, including its quad-core chip out next year, saying that the result is better performance-per-watt from its products.

Meanwhile, the fact that AMD is touting the portability of its new Opteron dual-core chip to a quad-core chip, based on a 1,207-pin socket, signals that the fight will move to that arena between the two chip manufacturers next year. AMD also announced that it has completed the design of its quad-core chip and is in the manufacturing process of putting it on the silicon. The chip is due out in mid-2007.

AMD said its quad-core chips will be better because it will have four processor cores on a single die of silicon, whereas Intel's expected quad-core design basically consists of two dual-cores hooked together from two separate dies. AMD said its version will generate less waste, and therefore less heat.

"We're going to a monolithic design, which is one die," said Vlad Rozanovich, AMD director of North American commercial business.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer

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