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AMD Introduces New Opterons, Bulldozer Approaches

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News Posted: Mon, Feb 14 2011 12:40 PM
AMD is celebrating Valentine's Day this year with a new series of Opteron processors that improve overall performance and reduce power consumption. At the high end, AMD's new highest-end 6180 SE 2.8GHz 12-core CPU is a 105W ACP (Average Power Consumption). Up until now, the 6176 SE at 2.3GHz / 105W ACP had been AMD's highest-end processor.

What these launches collectively demonstrate is that AMD's 45nm Magny-Cours products are maturing as expected. It's fairly common for a CPU manufacturer to release a 125W high-end processor at launch, only to offer the same chip in a 95W power envelope after the manufacturing process is optimized further.



When we asked AMD about the state of its Opteron business the company admitted that the previous year had been "difficult," but maintained that these new parts offered compelling arguments against Xeon processors in their own right. AMD's strategy hasn't substantially changed since we covered the Magny-Cours introduction last spring—the company has fought back by offering more cores than Intel at the same price at a ratio sometimes as high as 2:1.

In parallelized workloads this pays off nicely, but it's not a replacement for Opteron's lower speeds or efficiency gaps when compared against 32nm Westmere.

AMD had no new details to share regarding Bulldozer but confirmed that the CPU taped out in Q2 2010, sampled to manufacturers in Q4, and is scheduled for initial market production in Q2. Widespread availability and launch in Q3. Keep in mind that this is Bulldozer's server schedule; the processor's desktop incarnation is on a completely different timetable.
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realneil replied on Mon, Feb 14 2011 1:46 PM

News:
the processor's desktop incarnation is on a completely different timetable

It's a shame that they can't release Bulldozer desktop CPU's now to take advantage of the problems Intel is having with Sandy Bridge parts. They usually do screw up their timing though.

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rapid1 replied on Mon, Feb 14 2011 2:18 PM

Yeah when I heard about the Sandy Bridge board initial problems I was wondering if we would see a replay of the P4/X2 times when AMD actually sold more than Intel foe a year or so. As for the BullDozer desktop being launched that would be AMD's wet dream I think, but there off as realneil say's in there timing it seems.

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CDeeter replied on Mon, Feb 14 2011 3:55 PM

Yeah it's too bad they can't take advantage of this misstep by Intel, especially with all the positive reviews AMD's E350 has received so far. If they could just get a few Bulldozer parts out by April, they could still take advantage of the situation as it seems as though that Sandy Bridge won't be able to make a comeback until then.

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Joel H replied on Mon, Feb 14 2011 4:20 PM

One of the major points of Meyer's strategy that AMD doesn't appear to have abandoned was releasing parts when yields had reached appropriate profit levels. I hate to use a simplified car analogy, but when GM or Ford builds an engine, they know what they have. It's a six-cylinder, an eight-cylinder, etc.

When AMD or Intel fab a processor, they don't inherently know anything. They have to test the chip to determine whether or not its cache is fully functional, what clockspeed it can reach, and how much voltage it needs to reach that clockspeed.

Back when Intel was having trouble producing high-end P3s to match the original Athlon it was rumored that the company was deliberately sacrificing lower-speed parts and the total number of usable CPUs-per-wafer to produce more of the high-end chips it needed. I won't claim to completely understand the factors involved, but fabs can be 'tuned' to a certain extent depending on whether or not the company wants ultra-low-power hardware, high-performance hardware, or something in between.

With Bulldozer, AMD is presumably going to wait until its manufacturing yields have hit certain levels *and* it can field the necessary chipsets to push the product. If I had to bet, I'd bet on an aggressive launch.

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Thanks for the explanation Joel. Meyer's strategy was sound, his vision was not. AMD has been able to boost Opteron's performance by boosting cores (8 and 12), but still compatible with the G34 socket. So there's some good news coming out.

Intel's misstep with the Sandy Bridge was minor, even the stock price barely hiccuped. 

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realneil replied on Mon, Feb 14 2011 7:13 PM

gibbersome:
Intel's misstep with the Sandy Bridge was minor

I agree with this, but some people are acting like it's the end of the world because they bought into Sandy Bridge. 

I would still like to own one of these 'faulty' mainboards because I know that Intel will make it right, even if your board's manufacturer does not. The problem with them has to do with the power circuit on one of the SATA controllers leaking excessive current over time. It gets worse with time, but doesn't even manifest for a few years. Eventually it could fail, but don't expect to see it happen to very many people before the replacement boards are in channel.

Even with the possibility of a SATA problem in the future, remember that the Sandy Bridge platform has some wicked-fast performance and does it using less power while generating less heat. Some tech websites were concerned that it's lower temps could affect the aftermarket CPU cooler market because they don't get that hot when over-clocked.

AMD could have capitalized if they had been ready to do so at the time. I find myself hoping that they do well these next few years, because I know that Intel can take a little less of the Pie and still do well, and that AMD is necessary to help keep prices down to a low roar.

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Thank goodness for competition...

Intel also announced the new i7-990x, and the price of the 970 was cut to just under $600, and the 960 to $320 and rumored to be dropping a little more. Had Intel been all alone in the market and with the Sandy bridge dilemma at hand, I would bet that CPU prices would skyrocket.

Edit: The 990x is up in NewEGG and its based on the 32 nm Nehalem and not the 32 nm Gulftown thats sported by the 980x. I read from a Boutique builder that they are hitting pretty high overclocks. I'm certain the 990x has been tested and Burned by Either Marco or Dave, and the review is ready..Yes

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yep..this would be a great time for Bulldoser to launch..i'd dump $2000 if they came close or actually pulled ahead of intel.

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coolice replied on Mon, Feb 14 2011 11:17 PM

I told my cousin to take advantage of this... he picked up a Sandy Bridge cpu/mobo and ram combo. NCIX in store had a special going for for $50's off the package, because they were trying to get rid of the stock they had in store that no one was buying...

they did return it to the warehouse as it was supposed to be for a store display... but they didnt build the machine.

Though my cousin was hesitant... i reassured him by making him read some of the comments on this and various hardware communities. Funny thing, the hdd he put in was a sata 6, so i dont know why he was bickering so much.

Anywho.... hes a happy man, and $50 saved is $50 in your pocket!!

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CDeeter replied on Tue, Feb 15 2011 3:01 PM

I agree that this is a minor misstep by Intel, and one that they will definitely recover from. However until they do this does present a golden opportunity to AMD, and it seems like they are trying to, at least from a marketing stand point.

The Valentine's Day thing is pure genius!

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