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Servers are where thread-friendly new architecture shines the brightest

Today, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMDannounced the Opteron 6300 Series, code-named Abu Dhabi.  Equipped with a Piledriver core, the new chips serve as an enhanced replacement to the Bulldozer-equipped Opteron 6200 Series (which was code-named Interlagos).

As we mentioned in our piece on the consumer Piledriver launch, the new core is impressive, featuring a number of performance enhancements.  However, consumer workloads tend to be lightly threaded, so the consumer workloads tend to fall short on the price-v-performance scale.

In the server market it's a very different tail.  Workloads here tend to be heavily threaded in many cases, such as virtualized infrastructures, web hosting, mobile device data serving, etc.

AMD's numbers may be a bit biased, but it's claiming to essentially match rival Intel Corp.'s (INTC) performance in HPC (high-performance computing) applications, such as chemical simulations, with a chip that's only half the cost.

AMD performance Opterons

Intel will likely respond with some aggressive price cuts to stay competitive, but for now it's faced with the puzzle of how to compete with a foe that offers twice as many cores at half the cost.

AMD Opteron 6300 Series pricing
Pricing (click to enlarge)

Unlike the consumer market, Intel and AMD are largely competing on the same node -- 32 nm -- for server chips.  This is because Intel has yet to announce E5 series chips based on Ivy Bridge, having only announced E3 series dual- and quad-core offerings.

We spoke with Michael Detwiler, AMD’s Server Product Marketing Manager, who says that AMD's focus it to be "real targeted, instead of trying to be everything to everybody."

He argues that AMD's new Opterons provide "more computations per dollar" than Intel's mixed 32 nm and 22 nm Xeon line.

Piledriver
Piledriver bakes in a number of enhancements (click to enlarge)

The chips feature a number of subtle improvements, including better branch prediction, new instruction set support, and a more efficient cache.  In other words, everything is looking good, although third-party benchmarks weren't available at launch.

Source: AMD



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Pricing
By Mindbreaker on 11/6/2012 12:13:03 PM , Rating: 2
I think they need to rethink the pricing a little bit. 6386 SE, fine, probably a bargain. 6380, and 6328 appropriate. The rest are not priced to move. Don't see the point of the 6308 at all; who wants 4-cores in a server CPU especially when 4 are equivalent to 2 cores. Maybe $100 for that one.

I think the major problem they have had is that people want the 16-core and at a reasonable speed at a somewhat unreasonably small price. I say: do it. 6328 @ $399 that would sell chips. Or maybe a 125W 16-core at the same speed. I am sure they could make enough of them.

Under volting while water cooling seems attractive too. Provided that is an option.

No real benchmarks? What's with that? No one is going to buy without some real numbers. The speed bump does make them look much more attractive. No benchmarks also means people will be hesitant because that essentially tests a board at the same time. We need to know that there is at least one reasonable board out there.




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