Volume 8, Number 23 -- June 13, 2008

AMD Offers Clock Cranks on Barcelona Opterons

Published: June 13, 2008

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

OK, so last week, when I said that Advanced Micro Devices had finally finished getting its quad-core Rev F lineup of processors into the field with the delivery of the "Budapest" Opteron 1300 series of chips for single-socket workstations and servers, you all knew I was talking about finished at the socket level, right? I certainly didn't want to give the impression that there would be no more clock speed bumps in the quad-core Opteron lineup.

Because this week, there were. Specifically, as promised, AMD has pushed out the so-called Special Edition variants of its "Barcelona" quad-core Rev F chips, which run a little faster and a lot hotter than standard Opteron parts. As such, these chips are aimed at customers who need the highest clock speed and the most throughput that AMD can deliver, and they have enough air conditioning to cope with the extra heat. Standard Opteron parts have a 95-watt thermal design point, while the SE parts run at high voltage and higher clock speeds and have a 120-watt TDP. Those TDPs were based on pre-Barcelona measures of thermals, which AMD changed as the Barcelona chips made their debut last September. Using the new ratings, the standard parts are given a rating of 75 watts, while SE parts come in at 95 watts and HE parts (low voltage, "Highly Efficient" parts) come in at 55 watts. The amount of heat generated by the chips has not changed, but the way AMD stresses the chip has. (It used to stress all components all at once, therefore generating the highest possible number, but now it looks at what typical workloads will do, as Intel does in its TDP ratings.)

There are four new Opteron SE parts, two each for two-socket and four-socket or larger boxes. The Opteron 2358 SE is for two-socket boxes and runs at 2.4 GHz and costs $873 in 1,000-unit quantities, quite a bit more than the standard Barcelona 2356 part, which runs at 2.3 GHz and costs only $690 per tray. The fastest SE part for two-socket servers, the Opteron 2360 SE, clocks at 2.5 GHz and costs $1,165. Basically, that extra 200 MHz adds 8.7 percent performance, but at the cost of 26.7 percent more watts and 68.8 percent more money. It is hard to believe it is worth the money to anyone, really.

For four-socket and larger machines, the Opteron 8358 SE runs at 2.4 GHz and costs $1,865 a pop (again, you have to buy 1,000 to get that price), and the Opteron 8360 SE runs at 2.5 GHz and costs $2,149. The standard Opteron 8356 part runs at 2.3 GHz and costs only $1,514, and a slower Opteron 8354 runs at 2.2 GHz and costs $1,165.

Last week, AMD announced the "Budapest" chips for the 940-pin AM2 socket, which is what single-socket workstations and servers use. The Budapest Opterons are functionally equivalent to the quad-core "Barcelona" Opteron 2300 and 8300 chips, except they have fewer HyperTransport links and the electronics for the NUMA-style shared memory processor clustering removed. Each Budapest chip has 512 KB of L2 cache per core and 2 MB of shared L3 cache per chip, just like the Barcelonas. There are three different Budapest chips. The Opteron 1352 runs at 2.1 GHz and costs $209 each in 1,000-unit quantities; the Opteron 1354 runs at 2.2 GHz and costs $255 each; and the Opteron 1356 runs at 2.3 GHz and costs $377 each.

As you can see, the NUMA capability of a chip has a big effect on its price in the Opteron line. At equivalent clock speeds, it costs another 51 percent to 83 percent to move from a 1300 to a 2300 chip, and moving from a 2300 to an 8300 with the same clock speed boosts the price by anywhere 320 percent to 356 percent. So pricing is dependent on scaling up the clock and the number of sockets, and the more you try to scale, the more it costs. Ironically, NUMA and SMP scalability is not perfectly linear, so the more you pay, the less of a yield you get in terms of aggregate performance because of the NUMA and SMP overhead. But this is ever the way in the server racket.


AMD Finishes Off Quad Cores with Budapest Opterons

AMD Ships Low-Power Barcelonas as Two More Execs Exit

AMD Revises Opteron Roadmaps, Pushes Out Rev Gs

Server Makers Start Shipping Barcelona Boxes

AMD to Slash 10 Percent of Workforce Amid Sales Shortfall

Intel Talks Up X64, Itanium Roadmaps Ahead of IDF

AMD Says Barcelona Bug Is Fixed, Almost Ready to Ramp

AMD Stalled by a Bug in Barcelona Opterons

AMD Gets Aggressive About Watts with Quad-Core Barcelonas

Chief Marketeer at AMD Quits Before Barcelona Launch

AMD's Chip Roadmaps: Beyond Barcelona

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
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