AMD’s Fresh Opterons Aim At Cloud Providers

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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AMD’s new Opteron 3200 range is intended to help hosting providers slash their up-front costs while providing enterprise-grade performance

AMD has launched a line of low-cost, low-power Opteron processors specifically aimed at hosting companies looking to lower their up-front costs in offering cloud services.

The Opteron 3200, or ‘Zurich’ chips, are intended to compete against Intel’s Xeon E3 chips, and can cost providers as little as $25 (£16) per core, AMD said.

‘Desktop prices, server performance’

Hosting providers sometimes rely on desktop-grade hardware to cut their up-front capital expenditure, according to Patrick Patla, AMD’s vice president and general manager for commercial business. The Opteron 3200 chips are intended to offer a similar price point with processors that have been validated for enterprise use, he said.

“Now [hosting providers] have all the benefits of a true server-class product at desktop-class price points,” Patla stated. “This helps rapidly-growing hosting customers achieve fast payback in their incredibly dense, power-efficient environments.”

The single socket chips, which have four or eight cores, use the same Bulldozer technology as the higher-end Opteron 4200 and 6200 chips launched last year.

The Opteron 3200 processors are priced at between $99 and $229, compared to between $189 and $294 for Intel’s Xeon E3 range. AMD said its lower-priced chips offer twice the number of processor cores. AMD argued its chips offer 60 percent better performance per dollar and consume 19 percent less power per core than comparable Xeon E3s.

Three models are available immediately: the four-core 3250, which operates at 2.5GHz; the four-core 3260, running at 2.7GHz; and the eight-core 3280, running at 2.4GHz. The chips feature AMD’s Turbo Core technology, which can shut down half the cores while boosting the other half by 1GHz for certain workloads.

Low-power computing

The chips take up to 32GB of memory with 8MB of cache for the four-core processors and up to 16MB for the eight-core chips. Their thermal design power ranges from 45W to 65W.

AMD said the chips are available immediately in platforms from Dell, Fujitsu, MSI and Tyan.

AMD has said it is pushing ever further into low-power computing. Earlier this month the company expanded its low-power capabilities with the announcement it plans to buy SeaMicro, which until now has focused on low-power microservers using Intel’s low-power Atom chips, as well as its higher-end Xeon server processors.

The AMD-SeaMicro announcement came on the heels of Intel’s Xeon E5-2600 server chip launch, specifically aimed at handling the demands of virtualisation and cloud computing.

Intel said the chips will deliver 80 percent more performance and more than 50 percent better energy efficiency than the previous Xeon 5600 chips, as well as improved networking and security features.

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