AMD Introduces New Opterons, Bulldozer Approaches

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.