AMD promises low-power rival to Intel Xeon

AMD has announced that it will release "very low-power" Shanghai processors within three months, a move that could intensify its ongoing chip battle with rival Intel.

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AMD has announced that it will release "very low-power" Shanghai processors within three months, a move that could intensify its ongoing chip battle with rival Intel.

The new quad-core Opteron EE chips will deliver similar performance while drawing significantly less power than its predecessors, a company spokeswoman said. AMD's server processors draw a minimum of about 50 watts of power.

The Opteron EE server chips could become available in the next three months. The chips will be manufactured using a 45-nanometer manufacturing process and will be part of the Opteron processor family codenamed Shanghai.

AMD is also making progress with its upcoming line of six-core server processors, codenamed Istanbul.

In addition to adding two more cores, AMD is adding power management technologies and improvements to boost the chips' performance, said Margaret Lewis, a product marketing director in AMD's server and workstation division. The company hopes the Istanbul chips will deliver improved performance while drawing the same amount of power as existing quad-core Shanghai server chips.

The Istanbul chips are based on the Shanghai core, with the "same energy efficient parts" and additional cache, Lewis said. She didn't provide further details of the technologies, but said the tweaks should help the chip handle heavier processing loads.

The Istanbul chips are due in the second half of the year, Lewis said. Server vendors Dell and Hewlett-Packard will support Istanbul processors on their servers when the chip is released, according to the companies.

AMD's announcements come a day after Intel announced new quad-core Xeon server chips, which it is pitching as the most significant revamp of its server chip line since the release of the Pentium Pro in 1995. The launch took away AMD's long-standing technology advantage of integrating a memory controller on the CPU.

"We're pleased to see our competitor come to use the [integrated memory controller] technology we introduced way back in 2003," Lewis said.

It's hard to directly compare Intel's and AMD's servers chips as they are based on different architectures, said Dean McCarron, principal at analyst firm Mercury Research. The chip makers compete for market share, and are pushing the boundaries in the areas of price, performance and some other metrics, he said.

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