AMD unveils low-power Opteron processor

Manufacturers set to ship blade and rack-mounted systems based on new chips

Advanced Micro Devices Monday unveiled five low-power quad-core server processors, and said that manufacturers are planning to use the chips in both blade and rack-mounted servers.

The x86 Opteron HE processors are designed to run in a 55-watt ACP thermal envelope. They are available in the 2300 and 8300 series product lines for two-, four- and eight-way rack servers and blades.

Today is the latest in a series of AMD announcements featuring low-power chips.

Late in April, AMD released two 45-watt, energy-efficient Athlon desktop processors -- the Athlon X2 4450e and the Athlon X2 4050e. Both are dual-core processors designed to reduce power consumption and offer greater performance per watt. And early in March, the company announced it was shipping a 45-watt, X2 4850E chip.

"Our new quad-core AMD Opteron HE processors were designed to help data center managers who see power consumption and virtualization as the keys to solving their overall performance equation," said Randy Allen, a corporate vice president and general manager for AMD, in a statement.

Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, said that as more and more IT executives worry about power consumption, this is a good move for AMD, which began struggling financially and with market and mind share last year.

"The issue around power efficiency and power consumption has really been gaining a lot of forward momentum in the server and data center space," added King. "Processor power consumption is certainly part of the data center power issue. It's one part but a significant part of it. From a percentage basis, virtualization probably has the biggest impact. But this next-generation of Opteron and other low-power x86 chips is going to help."

King also said that coming out with low-power Opteron processors will help keep the chip a strong performer for AMD.

"I think Opteron has been a great success for AMD, and it's really given the company the opportunity to be both a thought and product leader in the server space," he noted. "Coming out with a lower-power product will help them continue to do that."

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