TECH BRIEF

AMD releases low-power Opterons

New EE series draws less power than other AMD Shanghai Opterons

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has released a new set of quad-core Opteron processors, nicknamed "Shanghai," that use less power than other models in the current line of Opterons,

The Opteron EE series "is one of the lowest quad-core x86 server processor powerbands on the market," said Margaret Lewis, director of commercial solutions for AMD. "They have been developed to address the needs of customers who have very dense computing environments."

The chips may be particularly well suited to servers that are doing tasks such as Web site hosting and cloud computing, the company said.

Lewis said that an Opteron EE processor will only draw, on average, 40 watts per hour, though this estimate is based on AMD's own Average CPU Power (ACP) metric, rather than on the industry-standard Thermal Design Power. Wattage between AMD processors and those from other companies can not be directly compared, some observers have noted.

The EE series chips will run in clock speeds of either 2.1 Gigahertz (Model 2373 EE) or 2.3 Ghz (Model 2377), each at 40 watts ACP. The EE series joins another line of Opteron processors tweaked for low-power use: the HE series, which consume a bit more power (55 watts) but run somewhat faster (up to 2.5 Ghz). The HE is marketed for blade servers.

The generic Opteron quad-core processors themselves have clock speeds of up to 2.9 Ghz, and use 75 watts ACP. AMD also offers a high-performance line of Opterons, the SE series, which run up to 3.1 Ghz, and consume 105 watts ACP.

AMD claims that the 2.3 Ghz Opteron EE processor (2377 EE) runs 62 percent more operations-per-watt than a generic 2.3 Ghz Opteron processor (Model 2377), as judged by the SPECpower_ssj2008 benchmark.

With a BIOS update, any motherboard that supports AMD's current line of Shanghai processors should be able to run the EE series, Lewis said. She expects third-party motherboard manufacturers will start designing new low-powered motherboards specifically to complement the EE line.

Lewis said that the EE series has all the features of regular Opterons. To obtain the power-savings, AMD made these processors with a different physical process and with different substrates than the regular Opterons. As with other Shanghai processors, the processors were built with 45-nanometer lithography process.

About the Author

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

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