AMD strikes back

GCN Insider | Trends and technologies that affect the way government does IT

COUNTERPUNCH: AMD's Opteron processor

When last we checked in on the CPU battle between Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif.'in the June 12 GCN Insider'Intel had landed a significant blow with its pending Core architecture.

Well, AMD responded last month with the announcement of its new generation of single-, double- and quad-core processors, ranging in clock rates from 2 to 2.8 GHz. But oddly enough, when we spoke with Steve Demski, AMD marketing manager, he seemed reluctant about matching performance numbers with Intel. 'You're not going to see dramatically different performance going from our previous generation to our new generation,' he said, with unusual candor for a marketing manager. Think slow but steady gains.

Instead, the company will fight on other fronts: power management and administrative ease. AMD is offering system architects extremely fine-grained options for processor power usage. As in the previous generation of Opterons, the company tweaks each chip for one of up to three usage models: low-power, regular and high-performance use. High-performance versions, with an SE suffix, will be slightly overclocked (and consume more watts). The low power HE models will have tuned-down clock speeds to sip less juice. A dual-core 2.4-GHz Model 2216 consumes 95 watts, while the nearly identical 2.4-GHz Model 2216 HE will run more slowly but consume only 68 watts.

The bad news is that the new Opterons will use new sockets, so upgrades to this generation will require new motherboards. The good news is that the new Socket F platform will allow administrators to upgrade to more cores with the same motherboard. So the administrator overseeing a maxed-out machine can replace a dual-core Opteron with a quad-core.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.


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