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AMD releases quad-core Opterons for single-socket systems

AMD's new quad-core Opteron processors for single-socket systems have all the features of Barcelona, but with less expensive memory.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) has three new quad-core processors for single-socket systems, the Opteron 1300 series, code-named Budapest.

Global OEMs including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. plan to incorporate the new processors into upcoming platforms, and the Seattle-based supercomputer maker Cray Inc. has begun shipping the quad-core AMD Opteron 1300 Series processor in its Cray XT4 systems.

The new quad-core processors include all he features in AMD's recently released Barcelona processor, except that Budapest is of the socket AM2 line, as are all of AMD's one-socket system chips. Barcelona, meanwhile, is socket F and scales up to eight sockets. Also, Barcelona uses registered memory, but the Budapest uses unbuffered memory, which costs about 15% less, said Steve Demski, an Opteron product manager.

For more on AMD processors and memory:
Server memory stalling performance, energy-efficiency gains

Dell's new single-socket server flush with memory 

AMD roadmap: Processors to jump from six to 12 cores by 2010

"The primary difference between the registered memory used by Barcelona and the unbuffered memory used in Budapest is the memory density. You can do eight stacked memory sticks and up to 32 gig ram of RAM with Barcelona, and with Budapest, the max is four memory sticks, which is about eight gigabytes in unbuffered memory," Demski said.

The new quad-core AMD Opteron models 1352 (2.1 GHz at $209), 1354 (2.2 GHz at $255), and 1356 (2.3 GHz at $377) processors include the same power management and virtualization features, such as Enhanced AMD PowerNow technology and Rapid Virtualization Indexing, as Barcelona.

As late as 2006, AMD had virtually no share in the one-socket server market, and began to focus more attention there, Demski said. Based on the 2008 first-quarter numbers from Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC, the AMD Opteron processor now powers 14.3% of the one-socket x86 server systems worldwide.

With Budapest, AMD is targeting small- and midsized businesses that don't need the scalability of Barcelona, Demski said. "The single-socket server space is looking for something reliable at a low cost," he said.

Cray's pick for supercomputing
Though it was designed for less intensive applications than that of Barcelona, Budapest has won the favor of Cray, which uses the processor in its heavy-hitting systems.

Cray recently upgraded its XT4 system, codenamed Jaguar, from 119 teraflops (1 trillion floating-point operations per second) to more than 260 teraflops using the new quad-core AMD Opteron processor.

All of the Cray XT4 system's dual-core compute sockets were upgraded to quad-core AMD Opteron processors and the memory in each socket was doubled.

"It is a great example of how AMD designs processors for upgradeability, and there is some exciting engineering here," said Peter Ungaro, Cray's CEO and president.

Cray began building its XT line around 2005 and has always chosen AMD over the competition because of HyperTransport technology and the use of integrated memory controllers, which maximizes chip performance, Ungaro said.

Cray's XT3 and current XT4 both use AMD's Budapest and can scale to thousands and thousands of processors; there are 31,000 processors in Jaguar, Ungaro said. Later this year, the XT5 system will ship with Barcelona processors, and Cray is building systems that have hundreds of thousands of AMD processors, he said.

The XT3 and XT4 are designed for applications that require a lot of data transfer between processors. The XT5 with Barcelona is best for applications that require additional memory or perform more computing functions rather than communications, Ungaro said.

It should be noted that Xeon processor for one-socket systems, the 5300 series.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer.And check out our news blog at

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