AMD Updates Opteron, Adds SSE3

AMD has announced three new 64-bit Opteron processors for servers, boosting top speeds to 2.6 GHz and increasing HyperTransport bus performance to 1 GHz. The new models also incorporate the SSE3 software instructions Intel previously added to its chips that speed up multimedia operations such as encoding video.

Most appealing to business customers, however, may be added support for AMD's PowerNow technology. PowerNow slows down the Opteron processors, thus reducing power usage, in order to keep systems cooler when not in high demand.

The new Opteron models -- 852, 252 and 152 -- are the first to be built with a 90-nanometer process and won't come cheap. Priced in 1,000-unit quantities, the Opterons range from $637 to $1,514 USD. Nonetheless, computer makers including IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun have already announced plans to support the updated chips.

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"These models of the AMD Opteron processor with Direct Connect Architecture bring the newest level of performance to our customers. The platforms our partners launched today feature the world's highest performing 4P and 2P processors for 32- and 64-bit computing."

For its part, Sun claims the Opteron-based Sun Fire V20z and Sun Fire V40z servers "outperformed 2- and 4-way servers from IBM, HP and Dell on industry-standard benchmarks." The company plans to integrate the new Opteron models into its systems in the coming months.

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