AMD Opteron 6300 Lineup – An Intel Xeon Threat?
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
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:
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.
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