AMD today introduces two new Opteron processor models, that extend the current lineup of 12- and 16-core CPUs. The CPUs were formerly codenamed Warsaw and first detailed in AMD’s server strategy update of last year.
Although the chips had their own codename Warsaw, the truth of the matter is that they aren’t a tangible improvement over the Abu Dhabi core in the other Opteron 6300 processors. The innards are the same Piledriver microarchitecture that AMD introduced into this segment at the end of 2012. When discussing the matter with AMDs Andrew Feldman back when we were briefed for the strategy update, he explained a switch to Steamroller would have postponed the product considerably.
The two new products are called Opteron 6338P and 6370P. The 6338P clocks at 2.3GHz with turbo up to 2.5GHz for all cores and 2.8GHz for a single core and features 12 cores. The 6370P has a base clock rate of 2GHz and can turbo up all cores to 2.2GHz or a single core up to 2.5GHz and comes with the full 16 cores. Both chips come at a 99W TDP which is lower than the 115W that the rest of the series are specced. Other properties such as amount of cache, memory speed and I/O capabilities stay the same. The 6338P is priced at $377, while the 6370P is available at $598. CPU prices are as offered by AMD in 1000 unit quantities per chip.
Given the lower clock speeds, its hard to quantify whether the new chips are actually an improvement in terms of performance per watt. They sure consume less power than their 115W siblings, but due to the lower clocks they will also be a bit slower. In workloads where computational power is not the limiting factor this could still be a net improvement.
AMD explained that the chips were introduced because they were requested by customers. The offerings are targeted at the Open 3.0 Open Compute platforms. The pricing structure reveals that effectively this is an extension of the Opteron 6300 series lineup to lower price points, as both chips are not only slower but also cheaper than their 115W counterparts. While this makes the chips more cost-effective for customers, it also reduces the margin AMD could extract of the silicon. AMD announced that the chips become available today at Penguin and Avnet and have furthermore received qualification for Sugon and Supermicro servers.
The Future of AMD CPUs
The future of AMDs CPU-only offerings is unknown at this point. For now the company will continue to offer the 32nm CPUs in the server and enthusiast desktop segment well into 2014 and 2015. For new product introduction the focus is clearly on APUs like the upcoming Berlin APU for servers, which is based off the same technology as Kaveri. AMD repeatedly stated that we shouldn’t read too much into these roadmaps and that they remain committed to these products.
Now that Kaveri is launched as AMDs first 28nm chip made at GLOBALFOUNDRIES, we know that the 28nm SHP technology would not be perfectly suited for a CPU only product. While it is the highest performance 28nm process technology at GLOBALFOUNDRIES, it doesn’t scale very well at clockrates above 3GHz. However as the 12-core and 16-core server processors are clocked lower to keep power consumption in check, this 28nm technology could be what these CPUs would need to improve energy efficiency even further. Together with the Steamroller architectural advancements these would be much needed improvements to stay competitive, if released in time.