(Source: WallPaper Live)
New chips use "Jaguar" CPU cores and Graphics Core Next GPU cores

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) is targeting rival Intel Corp.'s (INTC) Atom processor in the small embedded server niche with a new series of "acelerated processing unit" (APU) chips dubbed the Opteron X-Series.

I. Specs

Intel is creeping towards the release of its 22 nm mobile platform (core: Silvermont; SoC: ValleyView; chipset: Bay Trail), which will feature quad-core chips.  AMD is still on the 32 nm node, but it's getting a head start releasing a quad-core small CPU of its own.

Here's a quick run-down on the specs:
Model CPU Cores CPU Configurable Frequency GPU Cores GPU Configurable Frequency TDP Range 1KU Pricing
X1150 4 Up to 2.0GHz N/A N/A 9 – 17W $64
X2150 4 Up to 1.9GHz 128 266  to 600MHz 11 – 22W $99

And a run-down of how the core stacks up against Intel's current Atom product:

Opteron™ X-Series
Atom S1260
x86 CPU Cores 4 2
GPU Cores 128 AMD Radeon™ HD 8000 Cores None
Max. DRAM Per Socket 32 GB* 8 GB
Max. DRAM Speed DDR3-1600 DDR3-1333
L2 Cache 2 MB 1 MB
Throughput Performance 28.9 @ 2 GHz (CPU)
13.0 @ 2 GHz
Single Thread Performance 10.0 @ 2 GHz (CPU)
5.2 @ 2 GHz
Integrated USB 2.0 Ports Yes, 8x Yes, 4x
Integrated USB 3.0 Ports Yes, 2x No
Integrated SATA Ports Yes (2/3), 2x No
Price $64-99 USD $64 USD

II. About the Chip

The pair of new Opteron X-Series chips -- the X1150 and X2150 -- come in a 24.5x24.5 mm ball-grid array (BGA) soldered package.

The chips support up to 32 GB of DRAM per socket, four times the amount addressable (8 GB) by Intel's current dual-core Atom S1260.  And the DRAM is faster clocked DDR3-1600, versus the DDR3-1333 found in the Atom S1260. Cache is 2 MB, versus 1 MB in the S1260 (expect Intel's quad-core design to also feature 2 MB of L2).

The CPU cores onboard are Jaguar cores (Jaguar is the successor to AMD's first generation embedded APU architecture, Bobcat).  Clock speeds are 2.0 GHz in the X1150 and 1.9 GHz in the X2150.

Jaguar core

The X2150 features a full Radeon HD 8000-based GPU core, according to AMD, a step up from current consumer offerings which feature HD 7000M and HD 8000M  (Neptune) cores which have not yet been bumped to AMD's Graphics Core Next (GCN) core design.  The core features 128 core units.  

The addition of the GPU bumps the power envelope to 11-22 watts, up from the 9-17 watts consumed by the slightly faster (CPU-wise) X1150, which lacks an onboard GPU.  Note that Intel's server Atom chips do not currently feature on-die GPUs, however that addition is expected for the 22 nm generation.

The AMD APU also adds a pair of SATA (2/3) and a pair of USB 3.0 ports to the mix; ports that the current Atom lacks.  Hopefully Intel will add these features in its next release, but for now AMD does have a clear lead in I/O.

III. Market Outlook

The new chip appears to be a stepping block for AMD towards ARM processors.  While still x86, the light, low-power SoC designs resemble ARM chips somewhat, easing the transition AMD will likely eventually make. 

AMD said its partner Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) will use the new chips in first generation "Project Moonshot" servers.  Later generations of these servers will use 64-bit ARM chips which are under development at AMD.

Atom server
The X-Series chips are compelling alternatives to Atom server chips (pictured) in the niche embedded server market. [Image Source: FlowersFX]

Overall the X-Series appears very competitive with Intel's offerings, albeit in a niche market.  The chips should particularly shine in memory and I/O intensive applications given the addition of SATA, USB 3.0, and a four-fold bump in addressable DDR3 memory.  But the situation will definitely be shaken up when Intel's 22 nm server Atoms arrive later this year or early next year.

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