Battered AMD guns Opteron to 3.0GHz
Barcelona now with 10 per cent more 'wow'
AMD threatened a coupled of weeks back to crank its dual-core Opteron up to 3GHz. This week, the company delivered on that threat.
AMD has officially released the Opteron Model 2222 and 8222 SE chips – the highest performing and most expensive versions of the Opteron server chip family. We say "officially" because AMD did brag about the 3GHzness of the chips earlier this month and started handing partners product. Now, AMD has agreed to share pricing for the chips with a wider audience.
The Model 2222 SE chip, aimed at dual-socket systems, costs $873 in volume. That's a fair chunk of change more than the $698 2220 SE, which clocks in at 2.8GHz.
The 8222 SE chip, which fits in four-socket boxes, starts at – hold your breath - $2,149 in volume. The previous 8220 SE costs $1,514 in volume.
Along with releasing pricing for the new, speedy chips, AMD dished out a smidgen of news around its upcoming, four-core Barcelona chip. The nasty little chip should beat out Intel's Xeon processor by 50 per cent on floating point-heavy software, according to AMD. Previously, AMD has only been bold enough to claim a 40 per cent performance lead.
Barcelona has become more important than ever, following AMD's recent financial run. The company announced a $600m loss in its last quarter and saw processor sales drop by close to 40 per cent. ®
AMD doesn't try to make faster or slower processors and charge more or less accordingly. They always make the best chips they can. A certain percentage of the chips coming off the assembly line will run at 2.0 GHz, a certain percentage at 2.5 GHz, etc. A very small percentage can run at 3.0 GHz. If AMD charged by the GHz, their limited stock would sell out and they would be left without that product. Thus, asking why 3.0 GHz chips cost so much more than 2.8 GHz chips is kind of like asking why a 2 karat diamond isn't twice the price of a 1 karat diamond.
This is good.
I think that this is good news for everybody. Intel is not likely to fall behind AMD again willingly, so I see processor speeds increasing on both sides of the fence. Good time to be a computer user.
AMD Marketing Horrible
AMD has been marketing the ghost of Opteron future (Barcelona) for about six months. It needs to sell what is on its truck.
Opteron is pretty good against Woodcrest today. In many areas Opteron performance is solid or better than Woodcrest. There are others where Woodcrest has no or limited benchmark results, such as TPC-H and SPECjAppServer.
Opteron also outperforms Woodcrest as a VMware virtualization platform. See:
Clovertown only provides a 1.3X to 1.5X improvement on many workloads, the exception being workloads which are highly threaded and can reside in cache, like SPECjbb. Most customers I deal with are not buying Clovertowns, but are buying Woodcrest over Opteron.
AMD should never have lost one point of market share to Woodcrest in the HPC market. Opteron floating point performance is solid compared to Woodcrest, Barcelona, with four floats per clock, will be stellar for HPC, and the whole "hybrid computing" concept behind the ATI acquisition is well-suited for HPC. But AMD just completely dropped the ball.
AMD could have easily pidgenholed Clovertown into a niche, and positioned it as the equivalent of the Pentium Ds of a few years ago. Then it could have picked its fight with Woodcrest on its terms. It could have clearly attacked Intel's Tulsa XeonMP chips, especially in the VMware space.
Instead, AMD chose to sell futures. The problem with selling futures is they don't generate revenue. And now AMD has to deal with all of the negative press due to its financial performance.