The 64-bit Opteron CPU line from Advanced Micro Devices is growing quickly, even as a host of chips rolls off the fab lines. In the lead are four- and eight-way chips for the high-end and low-power versions for embedded applications. Even gamers are getting a specially designed 64-bit architecture.
The 846 ($3199) and 146 ($669) take advantage of multiple, high-speed HyperTransport links. The 846 is designed for four- and eight-way high-end servers using three links. The 146 targets high-performance workstations with one processor. It joins the Model 200 series, which supports one or two processors.
All Opteron models incorporate their own memory controller. Multiprocessing systems employ a cache-coherent HyperTransport implementation that enables processors to access data managed by other processors. Multiple links allow processors to be connected in a mesh without additional interface chips.
The HyperTransport links are used to access peripherals. HyperTransport-based peripherals can be accessed directly. The AMD-8111 HyperTransport I/O Hub handles workstation peripherals, while the AMD-8131 Hyper-Transport PCI-X chip provides an interface to PCI- and PCI-X-based peripherals. Even video devices operate over the HyperTransport links.
AMD has also announced mid-power and low-power versions of the Opteron. There will be 55- and 30-W chips available in 1Q 2004 that will be ideal for embedded applications, including blade servers.
The Athlon 64 is based on the same 32-bit and 64-bit architecture as the Opteron line. The single-processor Athlon line targets embedded devices and workstations. The new $733 FX-51 model suits high-performance multimedia and gaming workstations. It has a 1-Mbyte L1 cache, a wider 128-bit DDR SDRAM memory controller, and three HyperTransport links instead of one. The FX-51 can dedicate a link to video instead of sharing one link for all peripherals.
The ability to run 32- and 64-bit applications simultaneously over a wide range of system architectures from laptops to eight-way servers makes AMD's architecture and product line very compelling for PC and embedded developers.
Advanced Micro Devices