Beyond ARM, Williams said there is a lot of momentum behind the x86 Opteron server chips. AMD's previous Opteron 6200 chips are being used in the U.S. Department of Energy's 20-petaflop supercomputer called at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Opteron 6300 processors are being used in a supercomputer that will be installed at Indiana University next year, the university and AMD said.
The new Opteron chips have Piledriver cores, which AMD has been putting in Trinity laptop and desktop chips. The Piledriver cores are based loosely on the older Bulldozer core, which is found in Interlagos, but the new core delivers major performance boosts, AMD has said. The Piledriver core mixes CPU, integer and floating point units to execute more operations per clock cycle while using less power.
The chips have been tweaked to deliver better Java performance, and software stacks are better prepared for Piledriver compared to its predecessor, Williams said. The Bulldozer core was considered a disappointment as lab tests revealed that chips delivered lower-than-expected performance.
Opteron 6300 chips are backward compatible, and the company decided to stick with 16 cores as it wanted "thermal" balance at the socket level, Williams said.
"If we went to 20 cores, you probably start to look at balance issues around memory" and processing capabilities, Williams said.
The new processors support the older PCI-Express 2.0, while Intel's server chips have moved on to the faster PCI-Express 3.0. PCIe 3.0 can move data at 8 gigatransfers per second, which is a significant improvement over PCIe 2.0, which has a transfer speed of 5 gigatransfers per second. Williams said that Opteron 6300 16-core chips scale very well and PCI-Express 2.0 provides fast throughput.
The 140-watt Opteron 6386 SE has a base speed of 2.8GHz that can scale to 3.5GHz, and is priced at US$1,392 in units of 1,000. The Opteron 6380, 6378 and 6376 use 115 watts, have clock speeds of 2.3GHz to 2.5GHz that can scale to 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz, and are priced between $703 and $1,088. The Opteron 6366 HE uses 85 watts, has a base clock of 1.8GHz that can scale to 3.1GHz, and is priced at $575.
The company also announced two Opteron 6300 8-core chips priced starting at $293, and a quad-core chip starting at $501.