AMD Looks to Quad-Core Opterons

AMD introduced its next-generation Opteron processor on Tuesday, complete with a redesign of the server chip that would allow the chipmaker to natively upgrade it to quad-core capability. Such chips would make an appearance in mid-2007, with the dual-core models available now at top speeds of 2.6 GHz, similar to current Opterons.

Next-Generation Opterons, as they are called, will be available for $873 to $2,649 USD per chip in 1,000-unit quantities and use AMD's new "Socket F" to plug into the motherboard. That socket design is expected to take AMD through the end of the decade, the company said.

In fact, the quad-core chip is electrical-, thermal- and socket-compatible with current Next Generation Opteron chips, meaning those who choose to upgrade today would be able to swap out the old processor for the quad-core upon its release. AMD says customers would benefit from a consistent and common architecture between chips.

"Today's announcement represents continued innovation along the customer-directed path we blazed years ago; we provide the complete x86 processor architectural standard for others in the industry to emulate and have planned a seamless upgrade path to quad-core processors," AMD server and workstation corporate vice president Randy Allen remarked.

AMD's aggressiveness in the sector has paid off: its cost-conscious and power efficient chips have given it a quarter of the server market in just the three years since its first server processor. In contrast, Intel's old Xeon designs were known to be expensive and power-hungry, which turned some manufacturers off.

While Intel has turned up the heat again with Woodcrest, AMD also plans during this year to double the number of Opteron-based systems available from its partners. This push would likely be led by IBM and Sun, two of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's biggest supporters.

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