Saturday, March 19, 2011
Opteron "Magny-Cours" Gets a Speedbump
AMD has launched 5 new Opterons yesterday. The fastest "Magny-cours" is now called the Opteron 6180SE and runs now at 2.5 GHz, 200 MHz more than its older brother the 6176SE. That CPU won't be sold in large numbers however, as AMD indicated more than once that the 140W TDP SE CPUs are only a very small part of their sales.
The fastest SKU of the more popular 80W ACP (115W TDP) Magny-cours Opteron reaches 2.3 GHz (6176) instead of 2.2 GHz (6174).
Does this change the competitive landscape? In a dual CPU configuration, we found that AMD's best Opteron was slightly better in datamining and HPC, while Intel's Xeon X5670 was slightly ahead in OLTP, ERP, virtualization and rendering tasks. AMD's Opteron carried a slightly lower price tag than the Intel part, but the price advantage was more significant at the server level. These slightly faster Opterons have to face slightly faster Intel chips however. Intel bumped up their best 95W TDP Xeon from 2.93 (X5670) to 3.06 GHz (X5675) back in November 2010 yesterday (my mistake).
It is gets more exciting when we look at the quad CPU server market. You might remember that the four Magny Cours Opterons in the Dell R815 were able to offer 80% more performance at a pricetag that was only 20-30% higher than the typical dual Xeon machines. This kind of configuration has caught a lot of attention, especially in the HPC market.
The succes has encouraged the OEMS to come out with new quad opteron configurations. IBM has followed in Dell's footsteps with the X3755M3.
We told you that AMD was going to be popular again in the HPC market. The engineers at Dell seem to agree, as they made an insanely dense server. The C6145 packs two quad socket server nodes (Supermicro started this with their "Twin" series) and 24 2.5 inch drives in a 2U form factor. Each node can contain 48 cores, 256 GB of DDR-3, and and optional Mellanox 40Gb/s dual-port QDR IB adapter. Quite a few HPC people will fall in love in our humble opinion. More specs here...
Of course, it will take more to dethrone Intel in the server market than a few excellent HPC servers. AMD reports that their "Xeon killer", the Bulldozer server processors should reach "widespread availability" in the third quarter of 2011. The desktop versions will hit the market already in Q2. Interesting was also that "Interlagos", the 16 integer core chip will be able to boost its clock by 500 MHz when most of the 16 cores are not heavily loaded (and as a result, the chip still has some power headroom). When you run only a few heavy threads on this 16-core monster, and most of the cores are powergated, the CPU will boost the clockspeed even higher.