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)