AMD's Bulldozer rumbles off to server makers

The company has begun shipping the 16-core Interlagos, the first in its wave of server processors built on its Bulldozer architecture, to server manufacturers
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

AMD has begun shipping chips based on its Bulldozer architecture to server and supercomputer makers.

AMD workers

AMD executives celebrate the start of shipments of the Interlagos x86 processor, based on its Bulldozer architecture. Photo credit: AMD

The chipmaker began production on the Interlagos x86 processor, a 16-core Opteron built on a 32nm process, in August. It has now begun sending it to hardware makers, with much of the first batch destined for installation in supercomputers, AMD said on Wednesday.

"While we have shipped thousands of parts up to now that were engineering samples, this first shipment of production parts is a revenue shipment, so Bulldozer is now officially in production," John Fruehe, a director of marketing at AMD, wrote in a blog post.

Parts are shipping to all of our key partners now, so that they can finish their final platform validation testing.
– John Fruehe, AMD

"Parts are shipping to all of our key partners now, so that they can finish their final platform validation testing," he said. AMD's hardware partners include HP, Dell and Cray.

Interlagos has the highest core count of any of AMD's server chips, and it follows on from the 12-core Magny Cours-based 6100 Opteron that Facebook uses in its datacentre in Prineville, Oregon.

"The Interlagos platform is our first server offering optimised for today's cloud datacentres," AMD's acting chief executive, Thomas Seifert, remarked on a second-quarter earnings call in July. "The architecture excels at compute-intensive and high-performance computing workloads, where it will deliver up to 35-percent performance improvements compared to our current offerings."

Interlagos rivals

The main rival to Interlagos chips in servers is Intel's Xeon E7 family of processors, which have up to 10 cores. In the future, it will face competition in the supercomputer market from Intel's many-integrated core Knights Ferry architecture, which should have around 32 cores at launch.

There is also potential for competition from Nvidia in the future, if the graphics specialist's plans for its 'Denver' ARM-based supercomputer chip come to fruition. The processor was announced in January, but little has been heard of it since.

The new Opteron chips are likely to find their way into supercomputers built on Cray's XK6 design, which pairs Interlagos-based Opteron 6200 chips with Nvidia's Tesla x2090 GPUs. Cray believes the XK6 can scale to a peak performance of 50 petaflops, comfortably beating the current Top500 rankings leader, the 8.16-petaflop Sparc-based K Computer.

The University of Edinburgh, GE Global Research and the Swiss National Supercomputer Centre have all signed up for Cray's XE6 supercomputers, which are capable of being fitted out with Interlagos chips. The XE6 are similar to the XK6, but not as potentially powerful, AMD said.

AMD expects Interlagos processors to appear in partner hardware by the fourth quarter. They will be compatible with systems that use AMD Opteron 6100 Series chips and associated infrastructure.

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