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6200 Series Opteron CPU - Now up to 16-Cores

Original Article Date: 2011-11-16 

2011 has been a quiet year for new tech releases in the high performance computing market. Whilst Intel launched their "Sandy Bridge" architecture in Q1, it was limited only to the 1P (single processor) space, for desktops and entry servers. Beyond that there has been very little news, apart from spiralling hard drive prices as a result of the Thailand floods. But then, we want some good news, right?

Well I have some good news. It's with some excitement that I can bring you a major update to AMD's thoroughbred server processor, the Opteron. Codenamed "Interlagos", but officially referred to as the 6200 series, this new generation of Opteron brings many new benefits.

New features at a glance

  • Up to 16 CPU cores, increasing from a maximum of 12-cores on the 6100 (the previous Opteron series).
  • A new core design, codenamed "Bulldozer", with higher clock speeds, and up to 20% better performance per core for the equivalent clocked 6100-series Opteron.
  • New "TurboCORE" feature, allowing up to 500MHz higher clock speed when thermal conditions allow (similar to Intel's "Turbo Boost" feature), or up to 1GHz higher clock speeds if half the cores are put into sleep mode .
  • A new memory controller, increasing the maximum DDR3 RAM speed to 1600MHz (up from 1333MHz), and increasing addressable RAM per socket to 384GB (up from 128GB).
  • Uses same "G34" Socket as previous 6100-series Opterons, allowing for plug and play upgrades for most existing Opteron 6100-series based systems.
  • Increased cache sizes. Each core now sports a 1MB L2 cache (up from 512KB), whilst the package (two per socket) L3 cache increases from 12MB to 16MB.
  • 32nm process technology, an improvement from the 45nm of the 6100-series, and now matching Intel's nano-sized silicon process ("process" is the size of individual electron channels in the processor - smaller the better).

Turbo Clock Speeds, Bigger/Faster RAM, Instant Upgradability

For a CPU "update", that is a serious amount of new features. What I am most excited about is the introduction of the "TurboCORE" feature, especially when combined with an optional 50% core shutdown mode. This enables AMD to match Intel on raw clock speed and is of interest to specialised computing where high clock speeds with fewer cores are preferable, due to limitations in either software licensing cost or legacy single-threaded software design.

Equally cool is the new memory controller, improving both RAM speed and capacity capability. With 16GB memory sticks now becoming affordable, and 32GB modules expected to do so within 18 months, AMD are future-proofing systems to be able to handle the massive amount of memory desired by many high performance computing customers. With 384GB now the limit per socket, we're talking up to 768GB for 2P systems, or 1.5TB for 4P systems. It sounds crazy, but I have built and sold 256GB 4P systems, so I know there is a demand out there. I'm glad to see AMD responding.

Last but not least, all this is available to existing Opteron 6100-series users, as these chips will fit straight in to the same G34 socket used by the previous generation. (Certain v1.00 mainboards may not be upgradeable, and in all cases, a BIOS update will be necessary prior to the upgrade). This retrofit capability also means that you will not have to suffer "v1.0" issues on a new platform design, since existing platforms can be used.

The new 6200-series Opteron Line-Up

Model Rated Clock Max Turbo-CORE Clock Cores Max TDP Integrated Price
6282SE 2.6GHz 3.3GHz 16 140W $1,274
6276 2.3GHz 3.2GHz 16 115W $985
6274 2.2GHz 3.1GHz 16 115W $799
6272 2.1GHz 3.0GHz 16 115W $654
6238 2.6GHz 3.2GHz 12 115W $569
6234 2.4GHz 3.0GHz 12 115W $472
6220 3.0GHz 3.6GHz 8 115W $654
6212 2.6GHz 3.2GHz 8 115W $332
6204 3.3GHz n/a 4 115W $569

AMD have priced the new chips competitively, as I'd expected. At the low end, the 2.6GHz 6212 cashing in at just over $300, is at the same price as the previous 6128 Opteron (2.0GHz clock, half the cache size). So there is definitely significantly better price/performance to be found in this update to the Opteron line-up.

Available for Integration and Upgrades Now

The new Opteron 6200-series CPUs are shipping now, and so can be integrated into one of our nine AMD-based rack server, tower server and workstation models. Alternatively, if you've already purchased an Opteron 6100-series based system from us and are interested in upgrades, just me know.

~

AMD's new "Interlagos" 6200-series processor offers larger core numbers, bigger caches, greater memory speed and capacity, and dynamic "turbo" overclocking. And all within the same G34 package which means no platform/motherboard refresh is needed. With this release, AMD is potentially ahead of Intel now when it comes to price/performance, and as a high performance computing user, you would be wise to avail yourself of this new opportunity to increase your processing power!

Best regards,


Ben Ranson
Chief Systems Engineer
Electronics Nexus
http://elnexus.com
ben@elnexus.com