AMD Opteron 6300 Lineup – An Intel Xeon Threat?

15
Posted November 5, 2012 by Patrick Kennedy in Servers

Today AMD announced the AMD Opteron 6300 series processors. As was expected the Opteron 6300 series followed the Opteron 6200 and Opteron 6100 series in a few major respects. First, AMD has retained the Socket G34 platform. It is somewhat amazing that two full processor generations later, the Socket G34 platform is still thriving. Looking to Oak Ridge National Labs’ Titan supercomputer, one can see Cray used the AMD G34 quad socket configuration to build the world’s fastest supercomputer. For those wondering, Titan used previous generation Opteron 6274 cores. Here is the AMD Opteorn 6300 series processor lineup:

The AMD Opteron 6300 Series Lineup

AMD Opteron 6300 Series processors

AMD Opteron 6300 Series processors

As one can see, AMD condensed the Piledriver based Opteron 6300 series processor lineup by quite a bit. Here is last year’s AMD Opteron 6200 series lineup for comparison:

AMD Opteron 6200 Series processors

AMD Opteron 6200 Series processors

A few items of note here. First, there is not a huge change in terms of core counts. 16 is still the maximum per socket. It should be stressed that these are the AMD modular cores. There was a significant question as to AMD’s architecture moves with Bulldozer/ Interlagos and the Opteron 6200 series CPUs. Piledriver derived Abu Dhabi cores improve some of the shortcomings of Bulldozer so we should see some nice performance gains here.

While the Opteron 6386 SE may jump out at a lot of folks for its high clock speed, high core count, and high TDP (thanks to its 32nm process), there are three equally compelling options.

First the quad core Opteron 6308 could make a lot of sense. For those wondering why AMD would release such a large chip with so few cores it comes down to licensing. In many applications, license costs are per core. In those applications, higher core speed gives a higher performance per dollar ratio than more slower cores.

Second, the AMD Opteron 6366 HE (high efficiency) processor is a 16 core CPU that runs only $575 and has the lowest TDP of the bunch. Actually, this is a very interesting CPU as it has a chance to be a high-core count 1A @ 110v or 120v part. These are much wider CPUs than Intel’s Xeon E3 series but pricing is below the 4C/8T Intel Xeon E3-1280 V2 CPU. Price wise, for 4P configurations these compete with the Intel Xeon E5-4603 which has less cache, lower clock speed and fewer cores (2GHz 4C/8T).

The third interesting chip in the AMD Opteron 6300 series lineup is the least expensive, the AMD Operton 6320. It is a well clocked 8 core chip but pricing should start under $300. For those applications that require moderate numbers of threads, and lots of memory, a 4P motherboard with four of these chips will run well under $2,000. That is the price of a single Intel Xeon E5-2690 that we use for reviews.

AMD Opteron 6300 Series’ Big G34 Advantage – 4P Configurations

One of the most compelling reasons to use AMD’s G34 architecture is the 4P configuration. First off, AMD’s highest performing chips are under $1,400 each. Chips like the Opteron 6366 HE combine low power with high core counts at well under $600 each. A four socket motherboard can have eight DIMMs per CPU for a total of 32 registered ECC DIMMs in a 4P configuration. For those counting, that means you can fill a 4P 2U server with 1TB of RAM. The low cost platform combined with high-RAM limits have earned AMD a prominent spot among many Web 2.0 companies because they can be used as inexpensive memcached servers. For HPC applications like Titan, high memory capacity in the 4P configurations helps the system hold a total of over 700TB of memory.

Of course, Intel has the Xeon E5-4600 series and E7 series for 4-way servers, but the jump from the highest end E5-2600 series CPUs to the equivelant E5-4600 series CPUs has what is known as the 4P tax. The Intel Xeon E5-4650 is a 8C/16T CPU running at 2.7GHz nominal and 3.3GHz turbo. Pricing is around $3,600 each. The Intel Xeon E5-2680 is only 2P capable, but runs at 2.7GHz base and 3.5GHz turbo has the same TDP and core/ thread count, but runs at around $1,700. That means Intel is charging a 2x multiplier simply for the chips to be 4-way capable. AMD’s pricing is more straightforward. The AMD Opteron 6300 series pricing is more straightforward. All AMD Opteron 6300 series CPUs are 4-way capable and the highest price Opteron 6386 SE is under $1,400.

Closing Thoughts

I did want to take a quick moment and point out a few things. First, I really like AMD’s pricing strategy. We needed the AMD Opteron 6300 series launch to put a bit more pressure back on Intel. One MAJOR disadvantage of the aging AMD G34 platform is that it is still limited to PCIe 2.0 and it stil uses a northbridge design. As we saw with the LSI 9207-8e  and LSI 9202-16e testing, that gives Intel a distinct advantage in terms of I/O card throughput


About the Author

Patrick Kennedy

Patrick has been running ServeTheHome since 2009 and covers a wide variety of home and small business IT topics. For his day job, Patrick is a management consultant focused in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about basic server building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.

15 Comments


  1.  
    Dragon

    Opteron is still very strong in terms of processing power/price. And with Keller and Gustafson back in AMD we are expecting AMD to be highly competitive again in 2 cpu generations.

    We’re supporting AMD now because without AMD in the game Intel will just charge whatever they want for their CPU, and AMD need the money to continue.

    Plus we don’t like all those built-in back doors in all the Intel chip after Sandy (all those vPro/Anti-theft/built in 3G receiver bullshit), the fact that anyone can send a 3G signal to disable our server is simply unacceptable.




  2.  
    Dragon

    We just can’t sleep at night using Intel anymore.

    New Intel based PC’s PERMANENTLY hackable
    http://www.jimstonefreelance.com/pyramid.html

    Researchers Hack Intel’s VPro
    http://it.slashdot.org/story/09/01/06/2132247/researchers-hack-intels-vpro

    Intel vPro Hacked
    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Intel-vPro-Hacked-101286.shtml

    The new Intel Core vPro processors contain a new remote access feature which allows 100 percent remote acess to a PC 100 percent of the time, even if the computer is TURNED OFF. Core vPro processors contain a second physical processor embedded within the main processor which has it’s own operating system embedded on the chip itself. As long as the power supply is available and and in working condition, it can be woken up by the Core vPro processor, which runs on the system’s phantom power and is able to quietly turn individual hardware components on and access anything on them.

    Real world use for Core vPro processors will involve the following:
    Accessing any PC ANYWHERE, no matter what operating system is installed, even if it is physically disconnected from the internet. You see, Core vPro processors work in conjunction with Intel’s new Anti Theft 3.0, which put 3g connectivity into every Intel CPU after the Sandy Bridge version of the I3/5/7 processors. Users do not get to know about that 3g connection, but it IS there. Frank was not stupid so he unplugged his router. Unfortunately for Frank, that won’t work, because anti theft 3.0 always has that 3g connection on also, even if the computer is turned off. Sorry frank, you were good with operating systems, but did not know EVERYTHING about hardware. And now the real reason for your finicky security habits will be known to the NSA – you found a way to route photons to any place in the world without any sort of cable. You revolutionized communications. You were going public when you returned from your vacation, but thanks to your new Core vPro processors, a major communications firm is going to go public with your invention BEFORE you get home, and your research will be deleted and replaced with “criminal activity” so you will be arrested when you get back and unable to speak about the theft of your invention. Fascism is GREAT.

    If a system has the ram chips pulled, a Core vPro processor will read the hard disk anyway because it has all the ram it needs embedded in the vPro core.

    If you encrypted your hard drive, a Core vPro processor will read it anyway, because it snagged your encryption key

    If your system has been taken apart, and has no video card, ram, floppy, or hard drive, your Core vPro processor nailed you, because you left a flash drive plugged in. Or a CD in the CD drive. And what about that web cam?

    The bottom line? The Core vPro processor is the end of any pretend privacy. If you think encryption, Norton, or anything else is going to ensure your privacy, including never hooking up to the web AT ALL, think again. There is now more than just a ghost in the machine.




  3.  
    waaowaa

    “the fact that anyone can send a 3G signal to disable our server is simply unacceptable.”..this is joke? Was this ever happen? Do you have proof for this?




  4.  
    Dragon

    @waaowaa

    I’ve already posted the details in a previous comment, but the other comment is awaiting moderation because it has links in it.

    The fact that vPro was hacked and Intel refused to fix the hole for months was already a huge red flag.

    Also you can’t disable vPro from the BIOS, you can disable the BISO setting but the function is still enabled at the chip level, as long as there is power the machine is vulnerable because everything on the system is connected to vPro in one way or another.

    Worse, when you’re hacked at the hardware level you cannot detect it from the software/os level, everything on your server could be downloaded without generating any logs. So I don’t understand why would anyone want to buy something with a system wide backdoor that cannot be turned off.

    New Intel based PC’s PERMANENTLY hackable:
    www jimstonefreelance com/corevpro.html




  5.  
    dba

    The great thing about the Opteron 6100 line of CPUs has always been the ability to put together a monster quad-CPU database system for a fraction of what Intel charges. The new Intel Xeon E5s are so good that they’ve made the AMD option far less appealing, but perhaps the 6300s will do better. I’m anxious to benchmark them with Oracle.




  6.  
    woaaow

    dragon: Still dont see any proof of 3g real use…or was somebody already report that his HW was disabled this way? And about… vpro intel nics…you can resolve problem with using dedicated pci-e card like realtec if you dont trust intel and use intel origin nics in intranet.
    But I must admit, that you get my big ass a little scared because idea of some asshole from local cia,fbi,kgb division pushing red button with “stop all intell platforms” label… brrrb.




  7.  
    Dragon

    @woaaow:

    Dude, I don’t want to go all tinfoil hat here but the same technology is already in your mobile. Your mobile can already be switched on and turned off remotely, anyone with the knowledge can download the content on your mobile without you know, you don’t see ‘proof’ floating around because it is illegal to do so in most country, but just because it isn’t common knowledge doesn’t mean the technology doesn’t exist.

    How do you think “Anti-theft” works? What do you think they use to remotely disable your notebook when you report it “stolen”? With 3g of coz.

    If you want to sleep at night, run away from anything with “Anti-Theft” “vPro” or any of those new Intel NIC chip with so called “NC-SI/Sideband Technology/virtualization support”.




  8.  
    Dragon

    http://www.techspot.com/news/41643-intels-sandy-bridge-processors-have-a-remote-kill-switch.html
    Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors have a remote kill switch
    On December 18, 2010, 3:03 PM EST

    Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors have a new feature that the chip giant is calling Anti-Theft 3.0. The processor can be disabled even if the computer has no Internet connection or isn’t even turned on, over a 3G network. With Intel anti-theft technology built into Sandy Bridge, David Allen, director of distribution sales at Intel North America, told ITBusiness that users have the option to set up their processor so that if their computer is lost or stolen, it can be shut down remotely.




    •  

      OK just wanted to provide some clarity here. The 3G/ WiFi portion is only if you have them installed. So that is something that is more common in notebooks rather than in servers.

      As far as Anti-Theft, not all processors support this feature. The flip side to the insecurity is that if someone does steal a notebook it can be remote wiped, much like a phone. There is a trade-off but sometimes it is one you may want to make. Similar to your mobile phone.

      Also, if you really were concerned with this, you could always network filter the vPro traffic for an installed server. Most servers do not use the chipset controller anyway (less compatible) so much less of an issue.




  9.  
    Dragon

    Yeah…of course… Xeon gets stolen from the data center all the time, so we really feel much safer now because anyone with the know-how can now disable/snoop around our servers.

    Independent OS/Power circuit/Network stack/Wireless connection. What could possibly go wrong?




  10.  
    Dragon

    @Patrick

    To receive long range poison pill you may need the 3G/WiFi antenna, but for close range (a few feet or so away) you don’t even need an antenna. FCC rules dictates all consumer devices must accept all interference. Ask any PI for more information for what I am really talking about, it has been known in certain circles such tech existed for years before vPro made it much easier and much more complete.

    vPro is basically an built in IMPI, If you really think you’re safe behind a firewall then you’re just being naive.




  11.  
    BusyBee

    The Opterons are “dying”, even AMD fan Charlie of S|A says so. The latest Opteron 6300s are only 6%-8% faster in SPECfp and SPECint scores. That’s still slower than the the new Xeon E5 series. And with Steamroller no where in sight (no longer in AMD’s new roadmap) plus product execution and delay issues (which also plagues Cray), its not hard to see why Cray have finally opted Intel for their latest 100 petaflop supercomputer. AMD also lost more foothold on the server and HPC market as the recent survey shows.




  12.  
    LOL

    BusyBee:

    That’s because the top talents left AMD some years ago, it takes at least 2 years to come up with a revolutionary design, so even as new talents are getting back to AMD there’s no point focusing on Steamroller since it’s already an outdated design.

    Not expecting anything revolutionary from AMD until 2015.




  13.  
    BusyBee

    Benchmarks of new Opteron 6300s versus Xeon E5s. A threat, not…

    http://www.tecchannel.de/server/prozessoren/2040000/cpu_test_amd_opteron_6380_abu_dhabi/

    Clearly the Xeon E5s outclassed the new Opteron 6300s easily in all metrics including power consumption. The SPEC scores are very telling indicators why AMD has hardly spoke about them at launch. The only exception is encryption.





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