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AMD grows very own Opteron chipsets

Niche play. For now

Advanced Micro Devices has delivered its first server chipsets derived from its acquisition of ATI Technologies.

The Fiorano platform that launches today will have three different chipsets, not the one pairing of the I/O hub and southbridge that we had been lead to expect when AMD sped up its Opteron chip roll out in April, just ahead of the debut of the six-core "Istanbul" Opteron processors for two-socket and quad-socket boxes back in early June.

Before AMD kicked its roadmap into high gear early in 2009, the Fiorano platform was described as the SR5690 I/O hub, which supported the I/O virtualization technology called IOMMU, short for I/O memory management unit. The other half of the chipset included the SP5100 southbridge. This chipset was created to support any RevF socket and added support for HyperTransport 3 links, which debuted with the quad-core "Shanghai" Opterons (sold as the 2300 and 8300 series) and which was were also cooked into Istanbuls (sold as the 2400 and 8400 series). HT3 interconnects have more than twice the bandwidth of the prior HT2 links. The Fiorano platform was also expected to bring support for PCI-Express 2.0 peripherals to servers as well.

In roadmaps from late last year and early this year, AMD had originally planned for this same SR5690/SP5100 pairing for the twelve-core "Magny-Cours" and six-core "San Paulo" six-core Opterons, and AMD was going to add another I/O hub called the SR5670 to the mix as the "Maranello" platform. The specifics of this southbridge were not detailed, but presumably it had fewer I/O lanes and was aimed at two-socket servers instead of four-socket and larger boxes as the SR5690/SP5100 seemed to be.

In the spring, AMD decided to chop its servers into two distinct families and to create two different distinct platforms, one keeping the Maranello name and the other using the "San Marino" name. The Opteron 6000 series processors - which is what the Mangy-Cours Opterons will be sold as - were tweaked to come in eight-core and twelve-core processors using the G34 socket and to sport DDR3 main memory controllers on the chips. This platform kept the Maranello name.

The Maranello platform is aimed at machines with two or four processor sockets. The Opteron 4000 series processors, code-named "Lisbon," replaced the San Paulo chips, and they come in quad-core or six-core variants. These chips are intended to use the C32 socket, support DDR3 memory and PCI-Express 2.0 peripherals, and span one or two socket boxes.

It looks like AMD didn't want to wait for the Maranello and San Marino platforms to roll out a complete family of chipsets, so today, the SR5690, SR5670, and SR5650 I/O hubs will be paired with the SP5100 southbridge to give motherboard and server makers a chance to cook up a wider variety of motherboards than they would have been able to do with the original Fiorano SR5690/SP5100 pairing.

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