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AMD Challenges Intel's Atom Chips with Opteron X-Series

AMD Challenges Intel's Atom Chips with Opteron X-Series
By Jennifer LeClaire

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AMD's Opteron X-Series server processors "should elicit interest among vendors considering or developing micro-server solutions that leverage either AMD's new chips, its SeaMicro solutions, or both," said analyst Charles King. "AMD is effectively throwing down the gauntlet to Intel, which restricts larger core count and memory support to its Xeon processors."
 


AMD is positioning its new family of low-power server processors as better than Intel's Atom. The company just introduced its Opteron X-series optimized for scale-out server architectures.

AMD is billing its Opteron X-Series processors, formerly known as "Kyoto," as the highest-density, most power-efficient small-core x86 processors ever built.

AMD said the new X1150 and X2150 processors beat the top performing Intel Atom processor on key performance benchmarks, including single thread and throughput performance with superior power efficiency, twice the cores and an L2 cache with a more advanced pipeline architecture, higher integration and support for up to 32 GB of DRAM -- four times more than the Intel Atom processor.

"The data center is at an inflection point and requires a high number of cores in a dense form factor with integrated graphics, massive amounts of DRAM and unprecedented power efficiency to keep up with the pace of innovation of Internet services," said Andrew Feldman, corporate vice president and general manager of the Server Business Unit at AMD. He said the "Opteron X-Series processors challenge the status quo."

The Real Deal?

Intel could not immediately be reached for comment. But we asked Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, about the new processors. He told us the X-Series chips appear to deliver the goods.

"These offerings should elicit interest among vendors considering or developing micro-server solutions that leverage either AMD's new chips, its SeaMicro solutions, or both. AMD is effectively throwing down the gauntlet to Intel, which restricts larger core count and memory support to its Xeon processors," King said.

"But the company is also providing a 'ready today' alternative to ARM-based micro-server processors/systems -- since the new X-Series solutions are x86-based, they should natively support virtually any existing x86 application or workload. Overall, AMD's X-Series reflects the aggressive innovation which has become common in the company since the arrival of CEO Rory Read in August 2011."

HP Buys In

The Opteron X-Series processors come in two variants depending on the end use.

The AMD Opteron X2150, which consumes as little as 11 watts, is the first server APU system-on-a-chip integrating CPU and GPU engines with a high-speed bus on a single die. AMD said that enables customers to take advantage of leading-edge AMD Radeon HD 8000 graphics technology for multimedia-oriented server workloads.

The AMD Opteron X1150, which consumes as little as 9 watts, is a CPU-only version optimized for general scale-out workloads.

"Fundamental changes in computing architectures are required to support space, power and cost demands organizations need to deliver compelling new infrastructure economics," said Paul Santeler, vice president and general manager of the Hyperscale Server business segment at Hewlett-Packard. "The new x86 AMD Opteron X-Series processors integrated into future HP Moonshot servers will continue to push the boundaries of power efficiency for social, mobile, cloud and Big Data workloads."
 

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