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AMD kicks dual-core Opteron to 3GHz

Trades apples with Intel

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AMD has started handing customers its fastest dual-core Opterons to date. Server makers and channel sellers have gained access to the 3GHz Model 2222 SE and Model 8222 SE chips, which will slot in just above the already shipping 2.8GHz processors. A similar 3GHz chip for the 1000 Series line should arrive in a few weeks.

AMD has yet to release pricing for the 3.0GHz chip (120W), as it does not plan to formally announce the product for two more weeks. You can expect it to cost a bit more than the 2220 SE, which is $698 in volume, and the 82220 SE, which is $1,514. The 2000 Series products cater to servers with two-sockets, while the 8000 Series feed systems with four or more sockets.

To complement the release of the fresh parts, AMD has peppered customers with benchmarks. For example, it shows the Opteron 2222SE beating out Intel's Xeon 5160 on Specint_rate2006 with a 55.6 score to Intel's 55.2 Using the same two chips, AMD knocked Intel on SPECfp_rate2006 with a score of 52.1 versus 45.1, and AMD bested Intel on SPECCompMbase2001 as well by quite a margin.

In response to the benchmarks, Intel spokesman Nick Knupffer said, “Rubbish!”.

He pointed out that Intel's actual top Specint_rate2006 score comes in at 80.5, if you look at the four-core Xeon X5355. Intel also notched a score of 57.2 with the same chip on SPECfp.

Of course, that's pitting a quad-core Xeon against the dual-core Opteron, and the Xeon chip costs $1,172 versus whatever AMD plans to charge for the Opteron 2220SE (almost certainly far less).

Apples versus apples? Well, not exactly.

Intel's four-core chips certainly outperform AMD's top gear, but they cost more and don't beat AMD by all that much on a number of benchmarks. If absolute world-class performance is what you care about, then Intel's your apple seller. If, however, you're eying core-for-core performance, AMD's still looking pretty damn good.

AMD and Intel have really taken to bashing each other with benchmarks in recent months, as Intel tries to take advantage of having a quad-core chip on the market. AMD won't have a quad-core unit until the middle of this year.

“Ninety-five per cent of the market is served by dual-core chips,” said Pat Patla, director of marketing at AMD. “All we are trying to say is that dual-core is what really matters. People are just not buying the quad-core parts.”

Make of the benchmarks what you will. They don't tend to do all that much for us since your actual code performance will vary quite dramatically from the ideal setups presented by the vendors.

The single-core version of Opteron topped out at 3.0GHz, but AMD is considering another speed tweak for the dual-core Opteron before the four-core Barcelona arrives. It's also prepping a 95W version of the new 3.0GHz chip that should arrive in the coming weeks. ®

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