CHIP DESIGNER AMD has released its 6300 series Opteron processors, codenamed Abu Dhabi, finally bringing the Piledriver core to its server chip range.
AMD launched its Bulldozer Opteron chips a year ago amid much fanfare as the firm hoped its radical architecture would take the fight back to Intel. Almost exactly a year later, AMD has followed up its Bulldozer Opteron processors with its 6300 series Piledriver Opteron chips.
AMD has made the 6300 series Opteron processor a drop-in replacement for the Bulldozer Opteron and kept the same TDP levels, which range between 115W and 140W save for a single high efficiency (HE) 16-core part listed at 85W TDP. The firm is sticking with offering 8-core, 12-core and 16-core processors, with five out of the 10 SKUs at launch having 16 cores.
While AMD has long given up on clock speeds, the 6300 series Opterons do stack up well on this largely superficial metric, with the lowest base clock frequency being 2.3GHz on the Opteron 6376 and the only exception being the 85W Opteron 6366 HE part that runs at 1.8GHz. All of the firm's Opteron 6300 series feature boosted frequencies beyond 3.0GHz with the range topping Opteron 6386 SE spinning its 16 cores at 2.8GHz and boosting them to 3.5GHz.
AMD is pitching its 6300 series Opteron parts at single, dual and quad-socket servers but admitted that the dual-socket configuration is still the most popular in the market, a view echoed by Intel. The firm supports four DDR3 1,866MHz memory channels allowing up to 1.5TB to be addressed in quad-socket configurations, with 1MB of Level 2 cache per core and a further 16MB of Level 3 cache per socket, each with four Hypertransport 3.0 links each supporting 6.4 gigatransfers/sec.
John Williams, VP of server marketing and business development at AMD confirmed to The INQUIRER that existing Opteron 6200 series customers require only a BIOS update to support the firm's latest offering. He added that high performance computing (HPC) customers were looking for the upgrade and said that IBM's Roadrunner cluster will be upgraded with 6300 series Opteron processors in the first quarter of 2013, suggesting that it will see a bump in its position in the June 2013 Top500 list.
AMD might have got a head start on Intel by launching its Bulldozer Opteron chips four months before Intel's Sandy Bridge Xeon parts, but in reality Intel's chips trounced AMD comprehensively. AMD is claiming a 40 percent power efficiency improvement with its Piledriver Opteron chips, which is certainly impressive, but Intel is expected to bring dual-socket Ivy Bridge Xeon processors online within the first six months of next year. AMD might find that customers hold off on buying Piledriver Opteron processors until then.
Williams said that AMD has already started shipping 6300 series Opteron processors, adding that the University of Indiana has already deployed 21,000 Piledriver Opteron chips in its Big Red II HPC cluster. µ