AMD Rolls Out Opteron 4200 and 6200 Series Processor

AMD has officially announced the release of the 8-core Opteron 4200 (Valencia) and 16-core Opteron 6200 (Interlagos) chip series. The new chips, which have been in development for several years, will populate a new generation of computers, with the 4200 series focused on the small-to-medium enterprise market and the 6200 chips on large enterprise, cloud, and HPC environments.

AMD reports performance improvements of up to 84% over the competition on LINPACK benchmarks. According to AMD vice president Paul Struhsaker, “Our industry is at a new juncture; virtualization has provided a new level of reliable consolidation and businesses are now looking to the cloud for even more agility and efficiency.” The new Bulldozer architecture puts the focus on maximizing thread count and improving power usage for cloud and HPC environments. This cloud focus is apparent in increased scalability for virtualization, which AMD says will lead to lower cost per virtual machine and up to 73% more memory bandwidth.

The Bulldozer series also offers innovations such as an integrated memory controller and “the world's only dynamic, flexible floating-point complex.” The power usage improvements will be particularly interesting in HPC environments. AMD reports that the latest series is the only x86 processor to support ultra-low voltage 1.25v memory. The power savings result in up to a 33% increase in core density with for equal power usage.

One of the more interesting power management features is the new TCP Power Cap technology, which will allow the user to set a custom power limit for the processor. In a recent interview with ADMIN HPC, John Fruehe, AMD's Director for Product Marketing in the server and embedded space, described the new TCP Powercap technology. “Many customers are trying to optimize their data centers and get the best density possible. Since they have a predefined power budget per rack, TDP power capping allows a customer to take the TDP down a bit, freeing up some of that power headroom so that they can maximize space in their rack.”

In environments where power usage is critical, the number of processors in a rack is sometimes limited by the peak power usage, which often occurs at a non-critical moment such as the system startup. Capping the per-processor power usage allows the owner to maximize the the number of processors in a rack, which leads to greater overall processing power at production time.

Watch this space as details emerge on AMD's Bulldozer architecture and Opteron technologies.

See also: John Fruehe interview.