AMD's New Opteron 4100 Series Features Power Efficiency for x86 Servers

By Andy Patrizio (Send Email)
Posted Jun 23, 2010


Advanced Micro Devices today announced its latest Opteron processor, the 4100 family, aimed at the mid-market concerned with power efficiency and performance per watt. It fills out the Opteron server line just below the eight- and 16-core "Magny-Cours" line for high-end users. Coming in below AMD's high-end Magny-Cours design, the Opteron 4100 is aimed at x86 server customers concerned with power efficiency and long-term compatibility.

Developed under the codename "Lisbon," the Opteron 4100 line is the definition of an entry level part, as the cheapest model will sell for just $99 for quantities of a thousand or more. Lisbon is a four- or six-core processor with clock speeds ranging from 1.7GHz to 2.8GHz, and power envelops as low as 32 watts and as high as 75 watts. Wattage and clock speed are, not surprisingly, tied together -- the faster the clock, the higher the power.

With the new line, AMD (NYSE: AMD) is targeting markets especially concerned with efficient power use, according to Gina Longoria, senior product manager for servers and workstations at AMD. "We're showing the world's lowest power per core processor, which is great for a hyperscale and datacenter perspective. You're able to get full server-class computing at extremely low power levels," she told InternetNews.com.

The 4100 series is part of AMD's "San Marino" platform of one or two processor configurations for workstations, Web, cloud and infrastructure servers. San Marino features a new CPU socket, called C32, which upgrades AMD's rather aged Socket F to support dual channel DDR3 memory.

AMD has gotten a lot of mileage out of Socket F, providing several generations of Opteron chips that were socket-compatible over the years. A nice upside surprise for server buyers is that AMD's upcoming Fusion processor family will be socket-compatible with Opteron 4100 servers.

The Opteron 4100 features an updated core architecture which AMD calls the Direct Connect Architecture 2.0. DCA 2.0 consists of the complete AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) technology with IOMMU and extended migration capabilities, AMD-P power management, HyperTransport 3.0 with two 16x links for transferring data at up to 6.4 gigatransfers per link, and the DDR3 controller.

DDR3 means speeds up to 1333MHz, an improvement over DDR2's 800Mhz speed, and transfer speeds of up to 21.3GB per second of bandwidth.

AMD took a lot of features like PCI slots and legacy ports out of the motherboard, which brings in significant power savings. In an idle state, it can reduce power by up to 62 watts when compared against the prior generation, the "Istanbul" generation of Opteron processors.

AMD is launching with Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) as its first tier one partner, with more to come. Both IBM and HP also offer Opteron-powered servers.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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