AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance

AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance

Summary: AMD's new Opterons, which have up to 16 cores, hit the market with good support from HP, Cray, AMAX, IBM and Dell. Is that enough to give AMD more than 5 percent of the x86 server market?


AMD on Monday rolled out its new Opteron 6200 and 4200 processors in a bid to regain server market share and become a more relevant player. The announcement comes amid a bevy of high performance computing announcements this week at the SC11 conference in Seattle. For AMD, the new chips represent a part of the company's focus on emerging markets, mobile and cloud computing. These Opterons, which include more cores, performance and efficiency, fall into AMD's strategy to power cloud computing server farms.

As for the processors, AMD's new chips, which were code-named "Interlagos" and "Valencia", promise 84 percent higher performance, more memory bandwidth for virtual machines and energy efficiency improvements.

Among the key points:

  • 4 to 16 cores;
  • Power efficiency as low as 4.375W per cores;
  • Supports up to 12 DIMMs per CPU for up to 384GB memory per CPU.

The new Opterons hit the market with good support from HP, Cray, AMAX, IBM and Dell. ZDNet UK reviewed the Dell server based on the 16-core AMD Opteron.

AMD also outlined a new platform, the Opteron 3000 Series, aimed at the Web hosting and microserver markets. The first processor in the 3000 Series is the 4 to 8 core chip code-named Zurich. This chip, due in the first half of 2012, appears to be aimed at ARM and Atom based servers.

Now the big question: Will any of this make a dent in Intel's server market share? In the third quarter, Intel had 95.1 percent of the x86 server market and AMD had 4.9 percent, according to IDC.

Analysts appear to be giving AMD a shot. Phase one of AMD's server plan revolves around pricing to garner more share. Aggressive pricing alters the price for performance and watt equation. Phase two revolves around the cloud computing data center focus.

Evercore analyst Patrick Wang said in a research note that AMD cut prices up to 50 percent ahead of Monday's Opteron launch.

Wang said:

Our checks indicate aggressive price cuts ahead of the Interlagos server launch. We believe this signals a dramatic change in strategy as the cuts are SKU-based within a 2-staged attack. First, AMD essentially re-enters the game by “price cutting” its way back in. Then, we expect modest speed bumps in 1H12 and incrementally higher ASPs as AMD fine-tunes its design and GlobalFoundries improves output and 32nm yields. We think AMD has a shot of restoring its server share to 10% – 15% by the second half of 2012 driven by the ASP realignment and forthcoming volume ramp.


Topics: Servers, Hardware, Processors

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • The 3000 series processors sound interesting

    If they target the same market as Atom servers, I really hope a company builds Mini ITX motherboard for them. I'd love a more powerful option for the Chenbro Mini ITX server chassis with hot-swap drive bays.
  • I am Discussing with our Dell rep their PowerEdge r715 pricing tomorrow

    This processor is *very* relevant if you:

    o Have an interest in virtualization (I do, Red Hat's RHEV)
    o See significant cost-reduction as being important

    Intel has nothing equivalent.

    My 2012 IT budget will include Dell equipment based on Interlagos, as I roll out RHEV for Desktops/Servers on RHEL 6.2.

    All Fat clients will move into the Datacenter as Win7 vms and IGEL Thin Clients replace them.

    This is a *trend* Folks.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      No its not.... I just rolled out 5000 windows 7 desktop in the last month with a server 08R2 backend
  • RE: AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance

    Didn't they already have 12 core / 16 core cpus? MAGNY COURS opteron cpu.

    Well, shouldn't they be releasing a 24/32 core cpu based on bulldozer ?

    I don't get it. THe biguest f-up amd made was not making an FX processor to match its 6 core phenom that it had out. It only released an 8 core cpu based on bulldozer that is really a 4 core cpu. So where is the 12 core cpu then? See if AMD came out with that 12 core cpu, then it would be faster then the previous cpu and reviewers would not be bitching.
  • So, what happens if Apple buys AMD?

    Apple does not make servers, and seems to be phasing out their workstations as well. If Apple does buy AMD as some have speculated, what happens to these server chips, not to mention the companies that depend on them?
    • RE: AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance

      @itpro_z Yea right that won't happen.

      You know, my first gaming rig that I built, I used an AMD Opteron 165 dual-core, and it was probably the best rig I ever used. That CPU took a beating, ran super cold on air-cooling and never once failed me, and to this day it still runs like a champ.

      I always wanted to make another gaming rig using an updated Opty.
      • RE: AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance

        sadly, as long as PC games are little more than xbox 360 emulators your old opty and a decent modern videocard will still play most PC games fine. played a fair amount of far cry2 and Oblivion on one of those a couple of years ago.

        My primary machine now is a dual opteron workstation board with two 270s, it runs very well with XP64 but is not for gaming. Have built recent quad core (i2500k, 560 unlocked) machines for others but not tempted to upgrade yet.
      • RE: AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance

        @Bates_ ha ha me too - it was only a 3200 single core though. The tide had already turned by then however and to get my flight sim running properly I had to go to intel after that.

        As more consumer software and games go fully multi-core, and if AMD really have worked why they screwed it up so badly with their price structures, I'd love to return to their gear.
        John in Brisbane
    • RE: AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance

      @itpro_z Speculation is just that - speculation. AMD has no footprint in Apple products, why on earth would they buy a processor company??
      terry flores
  • RE: AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance
  • Ooooh! Something kinda cool about the 3000 series:

    They run on Socket AM3+ motherboards.

    I can see a number of really awesome options this brings to Opteron systems:

    1) Workstation-class machines based on server-grade processors (2P options for AM3+ maybe?)
    2) Better support for graphics for RemoteFX sessions (multi-GPU running at full X16 speed, unlike most server AMD motherboards), as well as media server functionality (transcoding, media streaming, GPU compute, etc.)
    3) Cheaper DIY server components with higher availability (including heatsinks which are not widely available for socket C32)
  • you haul 16 cores, and wadda ya get?

    ...another day older and deeper in debt....
    • Cute, but...

      with the cheaper AMD pricing, the last part could read, "lesser in debt".

      • RE: AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance

        @adornoe@... True that
  • RE: AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance

    I hope that these 16 core opterons are not based on bulldozer module design. Because that means they are really 8 cores.
  • RE: AMD: 16-cores and a search for server relevance

    Finally AMD has an Opteron that makes software developers stop in their tracks and drool. I have said it all along, the Socket G34 was a wise decision due to its large physical die. Intel has to make smaller manufacturing processes or bigger sockets to keep up now.

    2012 will be year of AMD Bulldozer as the updated micro-architectures come out.

    Meanwhile, those of us who bought the ASUS KGPE-D16 dual socket G34 motherboard can upgrade to the Opteron 6272 without any hassle at all.