AMD Unveils Six-Core CPU

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has recently announced plans to release its first six-core processor by the second half of 2009. AMD reported that the new processor, which was codenamed “Istanbul”, will employ the identical socket and thermal envelope, as the current crop of 45-nm AMD Opteron processors. The company’s new CPU will vie face to face with Intel’s six-core Xeon chip.
“Istanbul” Memory Bandwidth Performance (Credit: AMD)
“Istanbul” Memory Bandwidth
Performance (Credit: AMD)

AMD’s Istanbul is designed with Socket F (1207), what makes it socket-compatible with the existing collection of 45-nanometer Opteron processors. Istanbul will be offered in two-, four-, and eight-socket server systems. Additionally, the processor would also function within the approximate thermal envelope as current Opteron chips.

“As a processor, Istanbul also bridges two worlds, the socket 1207 that has been such a strong platform in the past, and a 6-core Direct Connect architecture, with 12, 24 or 48 cores per server for the future,” said John Fruehe, the director of Business Development for AMD’s Workstation and Server Division.

During the first presentation of “Istanbul”, AMD team demonstrated the CPU’s performance by launching the Task Manager on Windows Server 2008 desktop, where the utility displayed activity indicators for each of the 24 cores in a quad-socket system.

Another demonstration was performed on a dual-socket system with 12 cores. The primary OS was Windows Server 2008, with three individual quad-core virtual machines – one each for Windows Server 2003, Red Hat Linux, and SLES 11 x64. AMD has additionally run a benchmark test comparing “Istanbul” to its 16-core 45nm “Shanghai” system – the recorded throughput was in the range of 25,000 MB/s in “Shanghai” and around 42,000 MB/s in a 24-core “Istanbul” box.

AMD says the demonstrations prove that Istanbul could function as an upgrade for existing Socket F systems. These would, however, require split power planes, and a BIOS upgrade in order to operate with the new processors.

“Istanbul” Stress Test and Virtualization Demos (Credit: AMD)
“Istanbul” Stress Test and
Virtualization Demos (Credit: AMD)

Even with such high performance of the Istanbul chip, AMD’s new CPU faces a serious rival on the market – Intel, which has already launched its six-core Xeon processor and is soon planning on releasing new chips with enhanced abilities using the Nehalem microarchitecture.

In addition to Istanbul, AMD will introduce a new server platform at the end of this year labelled “Fiorano.” This 45-nm chip supports HyperTransport 3, which is a chip-to-chip interconnection technology. It was designed for virtualization of the system’s I/O traffic, through the same 2, 4, and 8 processor infrastructures as today’s Opterons, with HyperTransport and two channels of DDR2 memory per socket.

TFOT has previously written about AMD’s Dragon, which is a brand new platform technology featuring AMD’s Phenom II X4 processor. The platform has been designed specially for demanding users and high-end gaming as well as computer graphics and video professionals and enthusiasts. Seagate and AMD have also recently demonstrated the future of SATA with a jointly developed 6 Gb/s SATA drive and AMD announced it is in the process of developing a 12-core processor targeted for release in the first half of 2010 – TFOT has recently covered both of these stories.

A YouTube video of AMD’s Istanbul demonstration can be found here, and additional information on the new CPU can be obtained at the company’s official website.

Icon image credit: AMD

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