AMD plans 16-core server chip

AMD is designing a server chip with up to 16 cores, quadrupling the count of its current quad-core server chips.

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AMD is designing a server chip with up to 16 cores, quadrupling the count of its current quad-core server chips.

Code-named Interlagos, the chip will have between 12 and 16 cores, and will be released in 2011, the company said at a press conference. Interlagos will be a follow-up offering to the 12-core chip code-named Magny-Cours that AMD plans to release in the first quarter of 2010.

Increasing chip core counts is a way for AMD to improve performance while trying to reduce the power drawn by the processors. Adding cores also squeezes more performance out of servers, which can reduce the total server count in datacentres. That helps cut hardware acquisition and energy costs, said Pat Patla, VP server platform unit at AMD.

The 16-core chips could go into servers with between two to four sockets, which could mean a maximum of 64 cores per server. The chip will be part of the Opteron 6000 series of chips, which the company said will likely be used in datacentre servers.

The chips will be more for servers that handle a variety of applications -- including simulations and databases -- that need plenty of processing power, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

"Given the consumer environment and those workloads, it will be a while before 16 cores is mainstream," McCarron said.

AMD's Opteron chips compete with Intel's Xeon server chips, but Intel has only announced an 8-core version of its Xeon chips with a chip code-named Nehalem-EX, due for release in 2010. Intel has also announced a Larrabee chip that has "many cores," but it is more for a supercomputing environment with high-end applications like 3D graphics rendering.

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