updated 04:00 pm EDT, Mon September 21, 2009
AMD Fiorano platform
AMD started the week today with a new whole platform for Opterons targeted at servers and the very high end of the computer market. Previously nicknamed Fiorano, the six-core Opteron with AMD chipset takes the company's existing server and workstation chips but adds a new chipset, the S5650, designed to scale for very heavy workloads. The technology now supports virtualization in hardware down to the very basic I/O interfaces and also brings the much faster PCI Express 2.0 interface and AMD's latest HyperTransport point-to-point interface between the processor and the rest of the system.
It should similarly be more energy-efficient and will even have remote caps that let owners put an artificial ceiling on power consumption and keep a a large number of systems in check.
The design is initially targeted at cluster-oriented PCs with as many as four separate processors, such as blades, rackmount servers and some towers. A handful of companies like Supermicro are launching systems based on the platform doday, but many more are expected when AMD replaces the processors themselves with the new Magny-Cours design in early 2010.
AMD's debut puts pressure on Intel, which has already had six-core Xeon processors for several months but has largely had to limit them to larger servers. It also has yet to launch a six-core Xeon using its modern Nehalem architecture.