AMD Gooses Dual-Core Opteron Speeds, Cuts Prices
Published: August 7, 2007
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Chip maker Advanced Micro Devices today made good on its promise to increase the clock speed on its dual-core Opteron Rev F processors for servers and workstations, which it said it would do back in April when it last increased clock speeds on the parts. The company also slashed prices on its first-generation Rev E chips (which had one core per chip) and second-generation Rev F Opteron processors in an effort to make life a little more difficult for rival Intel.
Back in April, the speed of the top-end Opteron part, which is called a Special Edition because it has a thermal design point of 120 watts instead of the 95-watts of the regular Opteron parts, was cranked up to 3 GHz and made available as the Opteron 2222 SE for two-socket servers and as the Opteron 8222 SE for machines with four or more sockets in a single system image.
Today, AMD is announcing two new parts that run at 3.2 GHz, the Opteron 2224 SE for two-socket boxes and the Opteron 8224 SE for bigger machines, that provide a modest speed bump for customers who need the absolute fastest chips they can get for their workloads. More importantly for the server and workstation market as a whole, the announcement of these faster Opteron SE parts comes alongside the launching of 3 GHz Opteron 2222 and 8222 parts in the 95-watt thermal envelope. The Opteron 2224 SE chip costs $873 in 1,000-unit quantities, while the Opteron 8224 SE costs $2,149. This is exactly the same price that AMD charged in April for the 3 GHz Opteron SE parts.
AMD also today announced a 103-watt Opteron 1222 part running at 3 GHz and in the 95-watt thermal envelope, which costs $360. This dual-core Rev F chip is used in single-socket servers and workstations. AMD has also sifted through its bins to find 95-watt versions of the Opteron 2222, which now cost $698, a price cut of 20 percent. The Opteron 8222 is now a standard part, too, and it costs $1,514, down 30 percent.
With the quad-core "Barcelona" Rev F chips only a few weeks away from launch, getting an extra 200 MHz into the field, or dropping the thermals by 25 watts for a 3 GHz part, is not a big deal. But it is something, and AMD needs to ramp up clock speeds as much as is practical to compete against a reinvigorated Intel. Intel's quad-core "Clovertown" chips might not be as elegant in design as the forthcoming Barcelona Opterons, but Intel has sold well over a million of these chips since launching them late in 2006, and that counts for a lot more with Wall Street and with the server vendors of the world, who want to sell iron, not promises.
AMD knows this, of course, which is why it hasn't just cut prices on those two formerly Opteron SE parts running at 3 GHz, but across its first- and second-generation Opteron chip lines. Excluding a bunch of Opteron standard and Highly Efficient (HE) parts that have been killed off among the Rev E family, the price cuts on the single-core Rev E chips range from 18 percent to 32 percent.
With the addition of the new parts to the Opteron Rev F lineup, AMD just shifts each chip below the new top-end part into a lower price band, which results in price cuts that range from 17 percent to 30 percent across the Rev F line.
While AMD needs to cut prices to get rid of inventory--particularly if it plans to price the future quad-core Barcelona chips aggressively--such deep price cuts can stimulate demand or widen a price war that can be deadly to the bottom lines of both AMD and Intel. Until Barcelona is out the door and all the dust settles in terms of pricing, performance, and performance per watt, it is hard to say what affect AMD's price cuts will have. AMD is clearly hoping to gain share and stimulate demand, but if Intel counters with its own price cuts, nobody but the end users are going to win in this war.
Intel's Financials Strengthening, AMD Waiting for Barcelona Kick
AMD Sets 'Barcelona' Quad-Core Opteron Launch for August
AMD Gets Whacked by Intel in Workstation Market
AMD Shows Off Barcelona Boxes in Taiwan
AMD Dashes Hopes on Revenue Projections for Q1
AMD Pushes Opteron Clocks to 3 GHz, Boasts of Benchmarks
AMD: Native Quad Core Opteron Will Best Intel Quasi Quads
Chip Makers Strut Their Stuff at ISSCC
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Why File-based System Backup is your Best Bet
File-based, Full System Backups Create Advantages Over Image-based Backups
File-based backups used for system recovery have been around for years. And, until recently, file-based meant a long, painstaking, manual process capable of turning off even the most meticulous system administrator. Image-based backups, then, seemed to solve this problem by eliminating the need to deal with recreating partitions, filesystems, volume groups or other details related to the system's storage configuration. In an image-based restore, the storage configuration and data from the original system are restored as a whole to the new system. While this method produced fast recovery times, Linux administrators began to realize disk image backup was more of an alternative method with its own set of problems and limitations than an answer to the challenges of manual, file-based backup.
Limitations to Disk Image Backup
Since disk image backups make no distinction between files and instead backup the hard drive as a group of sectors, bare-metal recovery can be quick and easy by simply rewriting a duplicate image onto a new, identical disk drive. A fine solution, as long as the old system and new system are indeed identical in types, sizes, locations- basically the exact same hardware. Any differences in hardware, however, could render an image backup unusable.
Many system administrators know first-hand the frustration caused by the inflexibility of image-based backup. "What I hear time and time again from clients is that they switched from image-based backup to file-based because of the limitations they encountered when trying to restore a backup onto different hardware." said Manuel Altamirano, Storix Software Director of Sales and Marketing. "Administrators assume they will have access to identical hardware after a disaster or for migration when the time comes. Unfortunately, so often this is not the case. Companies are left with unplanned, excessive downtime."
Even more advanced disk image backup products, that offer alterations to disk partition tables, still fail to understand more advanced and increasingly common storage configuration tools such as the Logical Volume Manager (LVM) or Software RAID (meta-disks) that also must be altered to match new hard disk configuration before data can be restored. In these cases, users must manually alter and build the configuration, usually through command-line utilities and manual editing of configuration files. This also requires users to have knowledge on how to make a system bootable. Rebuilding a system using a disk image backup requires experienced Linux administrators and could take days, weeks or longer resulting in crippling downtime for an organization.
Advances in File-based Backup
File-based backup tools today can automate the process of recording every aspect of a system separately such as disk, filesystem and boot loader configuration while supporting all popular Linux storage configuration tools (i.e. LVM and Software RAID). This detailed backup information is used to greatly simplify the recovery of a failed system from scratch, even if hardware differences are detected on the new system. Furthermore, systems rebuilt from the ground up using file-based backups often times operate better than the original because there is virtually no fragmentation when the restore is completed.
Flexible recovery based on file-based backup
File-based backup products have the ability to reconfigure disks, partitions, filesystems and other storage solutions to fit onto new hardware. This ability to adapt a backup to fit new hardware or alter the system's storage configuration is called "Adaptable System Recovery" or ASR. Only backup solutions that gather details about the original system have enough information and flexibility to make the ASR process of altering configuration so simple even novice Linux administrators can quickly perform the recovery. Once new configuration is completed, data files from the backup are easily restored onto the new hardware. Finally, the system is made bootable based on the new hardware.
The revolutionary adaptability of ASR found in file-based backup tools creates further added value for system administrators because these products can now be used for far more than just reactive tasks such as disaster recovery.
Applications for ASR:
- Disaster Recovery- restore systems in minutes after a crash, even if hardware is not the same as the original
- Provisioning/cloning- a single backup "golden image" can be used to provision different systems, even if disks, adapters or other elements are not the same.
- Storage software migration- change configuration on the same system for improved performance and availability
- Hardware migration- install the same system onto newer or virtual systems
New system backup management features
Products using file-based system backup have not neglected to consider a system administrator's daily backup responsibilities. These products now incorporate functionality for backup management as well as some of the most advanced features seen in backup and recovery solutions for Linux and AIX. Some advanced features designed to simplify daily backup management for system administrators include:
- Graphical, Web and Command line interfaces
- Local and remote backups to disk or tape devices
- Sequential and random tape autoloader support
- Support for SAN storage solutions
- Tivoli Storage Manager integration
- Oracle database backup support
- Backup data encryption
- Multiple compression levels
File-based Backup Solutions Provide Most Bang for the Buck
Inexpensive products exist that combine both file-based backup management and ASR in one program. Look for a file-based system backup product with advanced features like those mentioned above. In turn, regular backup responsibilities such as automatically verifying backups and encrypting backup data will become much easier. Additionally, combined ASR capabilities greatly reduce downtime and required expertise for both reactive (even bare metal) and proactive recovery projects. File-based system backup and recovery solutions are an economical and more comprehensive option than their image-based counterparts.
About the Author
Anne Stobaugh is an independent contractor working with Storix Software to educate Linux and AIX users on the advantages of file-based backup and recovery solutions.
Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Kevin Vandever,
Shannon O'Donnell, Victor Rozek, Hesh Wiener, Alex Woodie
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