AMD lifts veil on six-core
The Road from Shanghai
AMD has demoed its upcoming six-core server processor, code-named Istanbul, claiming that it remains on track for release in the second half of this year.
The demo came hot on the heels of Intel's confirmation that its four-core Nehalem-EP will be released by the end of this quarter, along with that company's recent detailing of its plans for the eight-core Nehalem-EX, scheduled for release late this year.
According to AMD's director of business development for server/workstation products, John Fruehe, the demo showed that Istanbul "is everything we had hoped for – and more."
Twenty-four cores, up and running
Istanbul will fit in the same socket 1207 that houses AMD's Shanghai Opteron processor, released last November and will match that processor's power and thermal ranges, according to AMD. In the demo, in fact, AMD upgraded a system from Shanghai to Istanbul and "stressed" a four-socket server with all 24 cores running.
The release of Istanbul will be good news for Opteron-server users and OEMs. Just swap out the Chinese city for the Turkish one, and you increase your core count by 50 per cent. ®
24 cores of juicy goodness
Let me relinquish my normal restraint and indulge in a bit of hi-tech geekery. I, for one, shall welcome our 4-socket 24-core server box manufacturing overlords. For HPC nerds, boxes like these fill a gap between the email-checking, report-writing, and Register-surfing desktops, and the number-crunching, MPI-enabling cluster farms used for the serious simulation work: ie. the test bed.
Bespoke Beowulf clusters don't cut it here; scientists soon find out that sharing the communication bus between interprocessor chit-chattery and mounted drives, on a single gigabit ethernet card, leads to blisteringly ZX81-esque performance. A simple to administrate UNIX machine cuts the mustard nicely - provided it packs a suitable punch. Nvidia's Tesla desktops are a step in the direction; here CUDA's CUBLAS is a masterstroke. But even CUBLAS requires recoding, and so a small server with plenty of memory shared between double-digits of cores fills a niche - and 24 is a good number.
See the blog and the photos
Also see Istanbul images here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amd_unprocessed/
And view a blog post written by John Fruehe, Director of Business Development for Server/Workstation products at AMD here: http://blogs.amd.com/work/archive/2009/02/24/istanbul-not-constantinople.aspx
For anyone who thinks multi-core chips are pointless they desperately need to get "Clueless" tattooed backwards on their forehead so they can remind themselves of their lack of clue each morning in the mirror. Multi-core chips have been in the server farm for ages (which is of course what these are intended for). Web servers, databases, etc. all make extremely good use of multi-core or general multi-processor boxes. Most big data centres now worry most about power usage, and multi-core chips have helped a lot with reducing power consumption per giga-flops.
I should be getting my 8 socket Shanghai boxes soon and it's going to make a huge difference to my processes.
You forgot to mention the dual 6 core opteron coming soon (12 cores in a new socket)
Intel may have 8 core coming, but AMD is next to do dual 6 core Opterons (12 cores per cpu socket). Its coming in a new socket, 1207 can't handle 12 cores.
Istanbul is for servers
Keep in mind Istanbul is the code name for the server parts...not desktop. The current generation of AMD Opteron servers have been using Socket F since 2005. Since the release they have supported dual core Santa Rosa, QC Barcelona, QC Shanghai, and now 6C Istanbul, all using the same socket architecture. Pretty amazing.
A word about Dunnington. Most people and jounalists forget that Dunnington is just for 4 Socket servers. Intel doesn't have a 6-core product in the 2-socket space. Istanbul should be a 6-core product for 2S, 4S, and 8-socket.
Also, QC Shanghai does a decent job of competing with 6C Dunnington in a lot of workloads and benchmarks. Just take a look at VMware's VMmark for example. Virtualization results based on Shanghai lead the charts. Even the 16-core VMmark scores top the 24-core results (Dunnington).
Not bad using a platform that has been designed and leveraged across 4 processor generations over the last 4 years.