AMD “Istanbul” Opteron CPUs Debut Early

The sluggish global economy has meant that not only were consumer computer sales down, but sales in the enterprise computing space for servers and data center computers were down significantly as well. The only thing for chipmakers like AMD and Intel to move ahead with new processors that offer more performance with power savings that help offset the cost of upgrading to new hardware.

Last week, Intel previewed its 8-core Nehalem EX server CPUs set to launch in the second half of 2009. AMD is now hitting the market with its new high-end 6-core x86 server processors codenamed Istanbul. The Istanbul Opteron processor is aimed at server markets with four or more sockets. AMD points out that the Istanbul processors are ready to go now, months before Intel is expected to begin shipping its Nehalem EX CPUs.

AMD’s Istanbul CPUs are expected to start shipping this week and many of the top OEMs will be rolling out server systems powered by Istanbul processors. AMD was able to beat its original time to market estimation for Istanbul, something that will go a long way towards erasing memories of the troubled launch of the AMD Barcelona line of processors.

AMD reports that the Istanbul processors will give users a 30% increase in performance per watt with an overall performance improvement of 40 to 50% all within the same price and thermal envelope of its predecessor.

The Istanbul processors also come with other new technologies like HT Assist. AMD’s John Fruehe wrote in a blog post, “[HT Assist] can give you much better throughput over the HyperTransport technology connections by reducing the amount of traffic generated by the processors in seeking the shortest path to data that they need.”

HT Assist is a feature eWeek reports will make servers using the new technology more appealing to companies in the high performance computing space.

Analyst John Spooner from Technology Business research said, “The trend we’re seeing is that there is a certain percentage of customers who are looking to scale down from a RISC/Itanium/mainframe-type machines to the high end of the x86 market. These customers are moving into top-of-the-line four-way and higher x86 servers.”

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