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AMD Sets Sights on Web Services With New Opterons

By Pedro Hernandez (Send Email)
Posted March 21, 2012


Nearly three weeks after buying SeaMicro, AMD is giving the clearest indication yet of its strategy for the newly acquired tech.

Today, AMD took the wraps off the Opteron 3200 series, a line of "Bulldozer" based processors comprised of the quad-core 3250 and 3260, and the 8-core 3280. The new processors are aimed at Web hosts, cloud providers and server dense deployments -- the same customers SeaMicro sought.

Opteron 3200 processors are clocked at 2.7 GHz or up to 3.7 GHz using the company's Turbo CORE alternative to overclocking. Depending on the model, they support memory speeds of 1333 MHz, 1600 MHz and 1866 MHz, handle up to two DIMMs per memory channel and address up to a total of 32GB of RAM. Cache sizes range from 8 MB for quad-core 3200s and 16 MB for the 8-core variant. Power consumption is rated between 45W and 65W.

AMD is hoping to appeal to budget-conscious Web hosts and cloud services providers with energy-saving features and compressed ROI windows. According to the company, the 3200s use up to 19 percent less power on a per-core basis than the competition, namely Intel's Xeon E3-1220L.

The new Opterons could help Web hosts recoup their server investments sooner, in roughly 7 months or 14 percent faster than with comparable, Xeon-based hardware. Making his case, Patrick Patla, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's Commercial Business division, said, "In today's economic environment, dedicated hosting providers need their data centers to become profit centers faster than ever."

A Glimpse at Future SeaMicro Tech

The Opteron 3200's focus on Web and cloud services providers aligns with the company new "disruptive server strategy," according to AMD. The most prominent example was this month's announcement that it had bagged SeaMicro, whose systems can be found in the data centers of Google and Mozilla.

In 2010, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based server innovator made a splash by debuting the SM10000, a 10-U, Atom-based server targeted at Web serving market that housed 512 processors using a custom interconnect fabric. Compared to Xeon servers, SeaMicro's systems delivered energy savings of up to 75 percent versus Xeon servers under the same workload. In January, the company followed up with the SM10000 XE, which was outfitted with 64, low-power Intel E3-1260L Xeons.

Improving performance while keeping energy costs in check has become a priority for data center operators in the wake of an exploding cloud market. AMD plans to ride this shift in IT thinking to improved chip sales and a return to profitability.

For the time being, however, AMD finds itself in the awkward position of selling and servicing Intel-based hardware. The Opteron 3200 signals that the company is working on keeping that arrangement as brief as possible by delivering chips that play to SeaMicro's value proposition. According to the company, "Today AMD has delivered on its promise of a low-power, single-socket solution that brings server functionality with desktop economics."

Opteron 3200-based servers are available now from Dell, Fujitsu, MSI, and Tyan. Processor prices start at $99 for the quad-core 3250 in thousand unit quantities.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

 

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Tags: AMD, Opteron, SeaMicro

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