AMD Keeps the Heat on Intel with Low-Power Opterons
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Advanced Micro Devices announced today that it was extending its 64-bit Opteron workstation and server chips with two new low-power variants. The Opteron HE processors consume around 55 watts of power and the Opteron EE processors consume about 30 watts of power. While this does not allow these chips to be used in fanless environments, this does make them appropriate in places where Intel Corp is currently deploying its "Prestonia" Xeon DP processors, mainly in workstations, blade servers, and small form factor rack-mounted servers.
The Opteron HE and Opteron SE processors will be available in the middle of March, and the company says that they will offer the most oomph per watt in the X86 market. The Opteron 846 HE (2 GHz) and 840 EE (1.4 GHz) processors will sell for $1,514 each for 1,000-unit quantities. The Opteron 246 HE (2 GHz) and 240 EE (1.4 GHz) chips will cost $851 each in 1,000-unit quantities, while the Opteron 146 HE (2 GHz) and 140 EE (1.4 GHz) will cost $733 each for 1,000 units. As we go to press, AMD has still not explained how it has been able to lower the power consumption and heat dissipation of the new Opteron HE and EE chips, but it has probably either moved to a 90 nanometer fabrication process from the current 130 nanometer process used for the initial Opterons, cut out some of the cache memory for the chips, or done both at the same time for the lowest power profile versions.
These prices are at premium compared to the previous Opterons with the same numerical designations and clock speeds, which also had their prices slashed by between 7 and 51 percent this week as AMD tries to keep the heat on Intel in the battle for the hearts and minds of the server market.