CHIP DESIGNER AMD has at last started offering its Bulldozer Opteron chips to the retail channel.
After months of delays, AMD's first Bulldozer core Opterons are the 4200 and 6200 series. The 16-core Opteron 6200 series, codenamed Interlagos, has four memory channels and a top standard clock speed of 3.3GHz, with each of the 16 cores supported by 1MB of Level 2 cache. The 8-core Opteron 4200 series, codenamed Valencia, has two memory channels and the same top standard clock speed of 3.3GHz and the same 1MB of Level 2 cache per core.
Although AMD has launched a brand new architecture for the Opteron Bulldozer 4200 and 6200 chips, the firm carried over some features such as Turbo Boost and most importantly socket compatibility. So while the top-end Opteron 4200 and 6200 series chips are rated at 3.3GHz, if there is headroom in the thermal design power (TDP) draw then the frequency of all cores can be increased by up to 500MHz. A second mode, which AMD calls Max Turbo Boost, allows a 1GHz boost on half of the cores.
The firm claimed that just five per cent of its sales come from what it terms 'top bin' parts - the most expensive, usually fastest chips - so most Bulldozer Opteron servers will run at less than 3.3GHz speed as standard, but may hit higher speeds at times if Turbo Boost or especially Max Turbo Boost kicks in.
The biggest difference apart from core count in AMD's Bulldozer Opteron processors is the number of Hypertransport links, with the 8-core 4200 series chips having three 16X clock-speed links and the 16-core 6200 series chips having four.
AMD doesn't expect its OEM partners to ship systems beyond 64 cores in four-socket 6200 series servers and 16 cores in two-socket 4200 series servers, at least for the time being.
AMD knows its Opteron chips have to beat Intel in power efficiency and the firm quotes 85W to 140W TDP for the Opteron 6200 series while the Opteron 4200 series chips have between 35W and 95W TDP. AMD also cites a C6 power state, which shuts down power to idle cores, and support for ultra-low voltage 1.25v DDR3 memory, as features bolstering its claims to power efficiency.
While AMD said that its Opteron 6200 chips can go down to an 85W TDP, eight of the 6200 SKUs have a 115W TDP with prices ranging from $465 to $788 in 1,000 unit trays. The bookends of the 6200 range are the 6262 HE, a 16-core 1.6GHz 85W chip, and at the high end the 6282 SE, a 140W 16-core 2.6GHz chip priced at $1,019.
The firm is initially launching eight Opteron 4200 series SKUs including three 'high efficiency' (HE) parts. The 4256 EE clocked at 1.6GHz with an impressive TDP of 35W is the most expensive Opteron 4200, coming in at $377, while the range topper is the Opteron 4284 spinning at 3.0GHz that costs $316.