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AMD Opteron 6100 review

AMD Opteron 6100

Verdict

Superb performance and reasonable pricing, plus the removal of artificial barriers to 4P computing, make it a potential Xeon-killer

Review Date: 29 Mar 2010

Reviewed By: David Fearon

Price when reviewed:

For the first time in what seems like years, AMD has managed well and truly to trump Intel on fundamental specification of a new processor. The Opteron 6100 workstation and server processor range, codenamed Magny-Cours, launches today. Sporting eight or 12 cores per processor, it outstrips the newest Westmere-series Intel Xeon 5600 parts with their maximum of six cores.

It’s not a case of being in the lead for a token five minutes, either. Intel’s ‘Nehalem EX’ Xeon 7500 server and workstation parts – due any day now - will still only have a maximum of eight cores, so AMD will retain the lead in this area for a while yet.

We recently had a chance to test one of the first ever fully working 6100-series 12-core machines - a 1U rack system from Boston Limited fitted with two of the new CPUs. We were also able to run a limited set of CPU-intensive benchmarks to get an idea of the raw performance of a 24-core, 2P system.

The new platform

The 6100-series processors need to be fitted to a new 6000-series platform. That’s because AMD has abandoned Socket F for an all-new Socket G34, so moving to Magny-Cours will mean a wholesale upgrade.

Mitigating this is the fact that the 6100 series removes an artificial cost barrier that the previous tiered 1000, 2000 and 8000 Opteron line-up imposed. Previously a 4P system required an expensive 8000-series processor to work, and a 2P required at least a 2000-series. The 6100 series removes that artificial barrier – they’ll work in 1P, 2P and 4P machines, for a clear upgrade path as long as you think about your requirements ahead of time and buy a suitable chassis.

Features

Intel still has the edge on fab technology. The new processors are based on a 45nm fabrication process where the 5600 and upcoming 7500 Xeons are 32nm parts. That may explain the clock-frequency disadvantage in comparison to Intel: the top end 12-core Opteron, the Opteron 6176SE, runs at 2.3GHz.

That’s in comparison to a base frequency of 3.33GHz, and Turbo frequency of up to 3.6GHz, in the highest-end six-core X5680 Xeon. Cramming all those cores in also needs an unusually large, rectangular processor package, hence that new Socket G34.

Level 3 cache, shared between all cores, has been doubled to 12MB, matching Intel, with the per-core Level 2 remaining at 512KB.

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User comments

Progress is worth it :)

Well done AMD :)




---------------
this had better not be an April fool!!

By nicomo on 30 Mar 2010

Interesting Chip -Flawed Review

Based on your own reviews of the Xeon 5500, on a core-for core basis the Xeon is better. Given that the Xeon has Hyper-threading and higher clock rates it would seem to beat the AMD chip in a competitve configuration.
However AMD might have an advatage as a Virtualisation platform as in this situation real cores and memory bandwidth are both advantageous.
However -well done to AMD for removing the 1/2/4/8x pricing differential.
The idea of a 1U server with 24 cores virtualising 10-50 servers is neat if nothing else.

By milliganp on 30 Mar 2010

Real cost?

So what about power consumption?

By darkhairedlord on 1 Apr 2010

@darkhairedlord: I belive its something like 105W for the top version, the fastest Intel version (quoted in the article) consumes something like 130W. Of course, this is under full load. See also http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpus/2010/03/31/a
md-opteron-6174-vs-intel-xeon-x5650-review/3

By qwertyqwerty87 on 1 Apr 2010

Actual power at the wall.

So AMD's 105W part has a better profile than Intel's 95W part.

They do have a 130W part, but consumption can be higher. The Max Power (a spec that they don't like to share) is the max that it can consume. A 130W 5580 has a Max Power ~185W.

By JFAMD on 2 Apr 2010

oops

that is our 80W part, not our 105W part, my mistake.

By JFAMD on 2 Apr 2010

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