CHIP DESIGNER AMD chose the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) to finally demonstrate a working Bulldozer system.
At AMD's ISC stand one could find several 2U and 4U servers built with older Opteron chips, but it was a 1U pizza box server made by Supermicro that housed two 16-core Bulldozer chips running live demonstrations of POVRay. This is the first time that AMD has publicly displayed its next generation Opteron processor, codenamed Bulldozer.
The chaps manning AMD's stand said that Bulldozer still has a Q3 2011 launch date and, judging by the fact that it has started to display working machines, we can assume that timeframe is not too optimistic. Asked whether AMD will be coming up with a Llano style Opteron featuring an accelerated processor unit (APU), AMD told The INQUIRER that "an Opteron APU still at least two years off".
Coming back to the present, Supermicro's 1U dual socket Bulldozer server packed in 32 cores, with space for an accelerator card. AMD said that other vendors are managing to put four sockets into a 1U server, resulting in a very impressive 64 scalar processing cores in just 1U.
Initially the chaps at AMD were not keen for us to photograph its naked server, however with The INQUIRER's winning smile the lid was lifted on the machine. One thing that surprised us was how cool the chips were running. We were able to touch the heatsinks with our bare hands. Given that this is a 1U server where cooling capabilities are stretched to the limit, that is a mighty impressive showing from AMD.
AMD was not willing to talk frequencies, cache sizes, cost or any other details without signing an NDA at this point. Although it wouldn't release exact thermal design power figures, AMD said that those will be the same as its Magny Cours Opterons'.
The 16-core Bulldozer chips should once again put pressure on Intel's Westmere EX processors, however Intel told The INQUIRER that it will be producing Sandy Bridge Xeons by the end of the year. And for AMD's Bulldozer, the litmus test will come not with Intel's Westmere EX line but next year, up against the Sandy Bridge Xeons. µ