AMD unleashes 45 nm Opteron processor

Logo AMDThe introduction of AMD??™s quad-core Opteron processor with the 45 nm Shanghai core may be five months late, but the CPU builds on hopes of an AMD that has recovered from a disastrous TLB bug that was discovered way too late in the first generation 65 nm quad-core processor. At least from today??™s perspective, Shanghai looks like a solid improvement, even if benchmark numbers may raise some doubt, and we wonder: Is this the quad-core CPU Barcelona should have been?

A little over a year ago, AMD introduced the Barcelona quad-core Opteron processor with much fanfare at a fancy event in San Francisco ??“ and ended up with a painful bug that delayed the delivery of first Barcelona server systems with a ???fixed??? processor by eight months. This time around, the new generation - the 45 nm Shanghai CPU - is launched in a much more subdued environment that not only fits to the AMD as we know it today, but it is probably also the kind of processor we expected Barcelona to be: A processor that restores AMD??™s competitiveness and enables the company to regain market share.

So, how is Shanghai different from Barcelona?

In plain performance numbers, AMD claims that the 45 nm chip is up to 35% faster than the 65 nm part and consumes up to 35% less power in idle mode. Also, the CPU is promised to be up to 40% faster in virtualization environments. Shanghai launches in nine different versions ??“ five (2.3 ??“ 2.7 GHz) dual-socket and four (2.4 ??“ 2.7 GHz) quad-socket versions.

In direct comparisons, Shanghai is priced much more aggressively than Barcelona as the 45 nm 2.5 GHz chip is priced against the 2.3 GHz 65 nm version. In comparison with Intel??™s recently released 45 nm Dunnington quad- and six-core processors (Xeon 7400 series), Shanghai is substantially cheaper: A quad-core Dunnington processor will cost at least $1980 and a six-core CPU at least $2301; AMD??™s Shanghai 8000 series starts at $1165 and tops out at $2149. Intel??™s outgoing 45 nm Tigerton processors (Xeon 7300 series) are priced between $856 and $2301.

The dual-socket Shanghai sells from $377 to $989, while Intel??™s Harpertown (Xeon 5400 series) chips sell between $209 and $1493 (Intel offers 17 different Harpertown SKUs).

In terms of new technology, Shanghai introduces more cache (now 2 MB L2 and 6 MB L3), enhanced pre-fetching for DDR2-800 memory and smart fetch technology that results in power savings. There are also virtualization improvements with a faster world switch. AMD said that the transition to immersion lithography allowed the company to squeeze more clock speed out of the CPU and launch Shanghai at a higher speed than previously anticipated. There are two more features, which, however, are not enabled yet. Hypertransport 3.0 (HT3), which is scheduled to be activated in CPUs scheduled for a Q2 2009 launch and L3 Cache Index Disable, which is planned for a ???2009??? availability and ???select operating systems???. AMD claims that HT3 will result in about 3% performance increase in dual-socket systems and provide about 10% more speed in quad-socket versions.

All initial Shanghai processors are released as 75 watt ???average power consumption??? processors, which translates to 95 watt TDP CPUs.

Source: TG Daily

Tags: AMD, Opteron

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