AMD releases final single-core Opteron chip

AMD releases final single-core Opteron chip

In another sign that the future of powerful processors lies in multicore design instead of dense monolithic chips, AMD released the last scheduled upgrade to its family of single-core Opteron processors.

Opteron models 256 and 856 are available immediately, and model 156 is due on the market within 30 days.

Computer vendors IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems immediately announced they would add the new chips to their workstation and server lines.

Vendors like the new design because it boosts chip performance from 2.8GHz to 3GHz while holding the power budget at 95W. That lets computer makers deliver faster workstations without adding fans to handle extra heat.

Users of single-threaded software applications would be the most eager to use these new chips, senior director of x64 servers at Sun, Graham Lovell, said. They got the most value out of their software by running it at the highest possible clock speed, and today that was found in single-core chips.

By comparison, other customers use multithreaded applications. That software - such as electronic design automation (EDA) applications - could be very expensive, so customers liked to use multicore processors to get the most value from their investment, Lovell said.

Sun will use AMD's new Model 156 processor in the entry-level Sun Fire X2100 server, designed for scale-out environments like number crunching with grid servers. It will use the Model 256 processor in two-CPU systems, such as the X4100 and X4200. The new Model 856 processor will go into four-way servers such as the V40z.

The demise of single-core Opteron processing is significant because AMD credits this processor with growing the company's share of the x86 server market from 5.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2004 to 12.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2005.

AMD will seek future growth in its multicore designs such as the dual-core Opteron models 185, 285 and 885. Launched in March, these chips are targeted for similar market segments. The Model 185 is meant for smaller servers and workstations, the Model 285 for high-performance workstations and the Model 885 for enterprise-class servers.

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