AMD's new 6-core chip promises ' a fistful of dollars'

02nd June 2009
AMD's new 6-core chip promises ' a fistful of dollars'

Canny backward compatibility with  dual and quad Opterons  will make it popular with Indian enterprise 

Bangalore: The game  seemed to be inspired by   the hit song of the old Hollywood musical "Annie, Get Your Gun": "Anything you can do, I can do better".  The  musical theme was drawn from  the classic  spaghetti western, "For A Few dollars more". The occasion was the India edition, in Bangalore, Tuesday, of AMD's global unveiling of its new Opteron  chip,  codenamed "Istanbul" -- touted as  the world's first  6-core server  processor  with chip replaceable, backward compatibility,  with  2, 4, and 8-socket  legacy servers.

The qualification is important:  As a live demo at the launch event  using   a dual socket Hewlett Packard DL385 Proliant server showed,  upgrading was a  7-minute cinch:  that's the time it took  AMD's  Field Application Engineer Saurangshu Kanunjna,  to  shut down the  machine,   pull out   the server's two quad core Opteron 2384 processors,  replace them with  a pair of  the new 6-core Opteron 2435 chips-- and reboot.  The 12 processing nodes were  now seen ticking away, in place of 8,  without any increase in the power demanded - which was around 90 watts. With no change in platform or motherboard, a  34% improvement in performance was  promised.  Analysts suggest that AMD's canny decision to make the 6-core  Opteron processor  chip-replaceable on the fly,  with  earlier dual and quad  core Opterons, would make  for a good value proposition  in cost sensitive markets like India. It was  also considered  a plus point compared to  competitive offerings that  called for an upgrade of the complete platform. 
The  Instanbul chip was not expected till October --  but the very first tape-out of the silicon turned out to be great,  so AMD advanced availability by 6 months.
AMD  has responded to industry's  " maniacal focus  on power efficiency", said  AMD's Server CTO and Chief Engineer  Michael Goddard. The result is  that customers now have a choice  between  processors that optimise power  or performance.   For power-efficient  processing in  applications like cloud computing, AMD's  quad Opterons were still a good bet. And for  performance freaks who were into virtualization, the new 6-core chips were the answer, he suggested.
The India end of AMD's development  labs contributed  to  the "Istanbul" Opterons, in the areas of core engineering, verification and system on a chip, revealed  Austin (Texas, US) -based  Corporate Vice President Jeff Verheul. 
Platforms fuelled by the 6-core Opteron will be available world wide  almost immediately from  Cray, Dell,  HP, IBM and Sun, said Ramkumar Subramaniam, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, AMD India.   Early desi or indigenous OEMs include Digital Wave and Wipro.
( Anand Parthasarathy from Bangalore, June 2 2009)