AMD’s Six-Core Low-Power 40Watt Opteron EE for Servers

AMD has introduced a 40W six-core Opteron processor. The overhauled chip offers 31 percent higher performance-per-watt over a standard quad-core Opteron.

According to AMD spokesperon Brent Kerby, companies that require low power processors often deploy dense, Greener Tech., large-scale IT projects where system energy trumps raw performance and every watt of saved power has a “significant” impact on the bottom line.

What’s New ?

  • It’s Greener – The 40-watt 6-core Opteron delivers the same processing capacity with about 30% less power consumption.
  • Leaner – Takes less Space – Implementing 6-core CPU’s allows businesses to get the same server capacity with one-sixth of the physical servers.
  • Cheaper –

“This six-core Opteron – which operates on a 40 watt power band – is specifically tailored to ensure strong performance while helping to reduce power consumption,” Kerby told TG Daily. He added, “And unlike other chips manufactured by the competition [Intel Xeon], our six-core EE Opteron retains certain, much-loved features that are consistent with AMD’s HE iteration. For example, we have not reduced the memory speed, bus support, hyperthreading or cache size. As such, deployment of the 40W Opteron will undoubtedly extend well beyond Cloud 2.0 and social media environments.”

AMD launches six-core Opteron processor Jeff Jenkins of AMD expressed similar sentiments.

“The advent of cloud computing and social media networks have brought new datacenter requirements to the forefront,” explained Jenkins. “A number of companies have expressed interest in low-power solutions that don’t compromise virtualization capabilities or performance features. That is why we designed our six-core Opteron EE processor. It does more with less and helps address the very relevant challenge of maintaining dense data centers.”

“We’re still able to achieve up to 30% higher performance, as well as just above 30% higher performance-per-watt in that particular processor,” stated AMD Senior Product Manager Brent Kirby in an interview with Betanews. Another formula that works to AMD’s advantage in this demonstration: A rack with 24 servers, all using AMD’s current line of six-core Opteron SEs at the 75W power range, could be traded for a rack of 42 servers using new six-core Opteron EEs at 40W, and stay within the same power envelope.

AMD claims you can replace a half-rack full of Opteron SEs with a full rack of Opteron EEs, and still save money.

But what is the performance trade-off, if any? Or to put it more bluntly, will those 42 EE servers perform any better, or even worse, than those 24 SE servers? We asked this question a number of different ways, and the answers we got harked back to a now-familiar AMD theme: For the customers who would consider buying EE in the first place, raw performance isn’t a real factor.

“For a lot of the cloud [server] guys, honestly, they realize that their computational utilization is not as high. It’s more about I/O and memory bandwidth, and getting them more memory,” responded Kirby. Of course, they’re trying to get the right balance of cores, but they’re also wanting to make sure they get enough memory capability, as well as I/O capability, within these servers. It becomes a more important criteria than just raw compute power.”

The importance seems a bit clearer when you consider AMD’s assertion that the power savings per server rack could come up to $50,000, or could surpass $1 million per year for a data center with 25 racks. But that assumes workloads stay the same, and a more accurate assessment of actual power savings when two racks so configured are given similar workloads, has yet to be conducted. Suffice it to say that the EE’s SPEC scores are indeed impressive: A two-way server running a pair of Opteron 2419 EE six-core processors scored a 1,614 on the SPECpower_ssj2008 benchmark test, compared to the same brand of server (ZT Systems 1224Ra) running a pair of quad-core Opteron 2384s, which scored a 1,166 on the same test. That’s to say, the 2419 delivered better efficiency for the performance it did deliver.

The EE rollout isn’t the only news from AMD this morning: Senior Product Manager Bart Arnold confirmed to Betanews that throughout the first half of next year, the company will bring back its 4000 and 6000 product line designations, to accompany the 2000 and 8000 series it’s been running with this year. This according to a plan first put forth last April.

“The 6000 series will be aimed at the performance market; that’s our ‘Magny-Cours’ product. It’s going to have two variations: one 12-core and one 8-core,” stated Arnold. “Then in the second quarter, we’re going to be releasing our C32 ‘Lisbon’ platform, the 4000 series. That is going to be aimed at the market that is very concerned with power efficiency as well as cost-efficiency; the people who are looking to get a little more bang for their buck. It’s not going to be quite as robust, it’s not going to support as much memory, but…when we release the EE version of that platform, it’s going to be really eye-popping low. I can’t really tell you at this point exactly how low yet, because we haven’t been able to test it, but we are planning on setting the power efficiency market on-end with that particular product.”

But once again, the questions will probably include, how much or how little of a performance tradeoff will there be, for those investing in the 4000 series; and what gains will data centers experience by going all the way with a 12-core setup?

“I think the answer to that is found in consolidation,” Arnold responded. “I think that the number of cores that the product is going to have, along with the memory scale with its four memory channels, will allow them to run, in the case of virtualization, a whole lot of virtual machines to consolidate their data center further.”

So it would appear that AMD’s typical value proposition, including with its latest EE announced today — just drop it in place of your old Opteron — has a limited shelf life to it. Once the 8-core and 12-core era is upon us by Q2 2010, the argument will change to one that emphasizes the benefits of moving from a two-way to a one-way server. Just after that time also, AMD’s Brent Kirby confirmed to Betanews, the company will begin making its argument in favor of shifting from DDR2 to DDR3 memory, once costs are no longer a prohibitive factor .

Intel and AMD will continue to leapfrog each other and move the processing bar. Behind the headlines about advances in 6-core CPU’s, the two processor titans continue research and development of 8, 12, and even 16-core processors. The more processing capacity that can be squeezed into a single physical server, especially combined with lower power-consumption, the more companies can achieve with less space, less money, and a smaller carbon footprint.

via – Betanews, TGDaily

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