AMD's dual-core Opteron processor will fit into the same area as its single-core product, helping to hold down manufacturing costs.
The dual-core Opteron will come with 1Mbyte of Level 2 cache for each core and fit into the same chipsets used by single-core Opteron chips. A chipset connects the processor to a system's memory and I/O ports.
Each dual-core Opteron will consume no more than 95W under maximum operating conditions, said Kevin McGrath, an AMD fellow and manager of the Opteron processor architecture. This is slightly more than the 89W specified as the maximum power consumption for the generation of single-core Opteron chips.
The ability to keep the die size constant was as a result of AMD's 90nm process technology, McGrath said.
AMD will introduce the dual-core Opterons at lower speeds than current single-core Opterons, McGrath said. The fastest single-core Opteron in its product lineup runs at 2.4GHz, and dual-core chips could be expected to run at least 1GHz slower than similar single-core chips, he said.
Frequency is still an important consideration when determining the overall performance of a system, but dual-core designs allow chip makers to conserve power with slower cores, said Barry Crume, a director with AMD's server and workstation business unit.
Future versions of Opteron will adopt multiple core designs and eventually move to multiple memory controllers, McGrath said.
As the company adds multiple cores it will need additional memory controllers to feed those cores with enough data to ensure the processor is running efficiently, Crume said. Changes in the standard for memory will also require changes to the memory controllers as DDR2 (double data rate) and DDR3 memory evolve, he said.
By that time, AMD will also be working on processors for servers containing more than eight processors, McGrath said.
AMD has only recommended Opteron for servers with eight processors or less to date, but the company plans to bring the chip into the "big iron" space usually occupied by more expensive servers based on a Risc architecture.
Tom Krazit writs for IDG News Service