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AMD retaliates against Intel with Rev F release

Less magical, more practical

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A more modest, less magical AMD released the new Revision F Opteron processors on Tuesday. The days when AMD could crow about broad, breathtaking performance advantages over Intel have vanished. Now AMD sells Opteron with a humbler pitch, one that revolves around consistency and high-end server gains for customers.

With Rev F, users will find a dual-core fleet of chips that top out at 2.6GHz. These new Opterons boast support for the AMD-V virtualisation technology and for DDR 2 memory. Intel has been shipping its virtualisation technology for some time and supports the more advanced but power-hungry FB-DIMM memory technology with its Xeon server chips.

Customers should expect to see a fair bit of manoeuvering from the server makers as they adjust to Rev Fs higher pin count of 1,207 connectors versus 940 pins in previous chips.

AMD has decided to ship three versions of the Rev F Opterons. Customers will see high efficiency parts that eat up 68W, regular parts that consume 95W and a special edition product that eats up 120W. In 1,000 unit quantities, the new chips range in price from $255 to $2,649.

You can expect the likes of Sun Microsystems, IBM, HP and Dell to roll out a wide variety of gear based on the new chip. Many of these vendors will stress Opteron's sustained performance edge over Intel's Xeon chip in larger, four-socket servers.

Intel has tried to counter AMD's high-end lead by trumpeting the upcoming release of a four-core Xeon in the fourth quarter. AMD today revealed that it does not expect a four-core Opteron until the middle of next year.

It now looks as if Intel and AMD will split various server benchmarks between them for some time. AMD, however, has urged customers to look past pure performance comparisons and see it as the more consistent processor manufacturer overall. AMD intends to keep its same, basic processor architecture for years to come, while Intel is expected to do another redesign in the near future to add technology, such as an integrated memory controller, to the Xeons. ®

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