Lest anyone accuse me of ignoring AMD in this series, I will talk about the AMD Opteron 6100 series processors today. AMD released several new models in this family on February 14, 2011, the most interesting of which is the 2.5GHz, twelve-core Opteron 6180 SE, which is their new, top of the line model.
The AMD Opteron 6100 “Magny Cours” is an eight or twelve-core processor used in two and four socket servers starting in April of 2010. It is built on 45nm process technology and has clock speeds ranging from 1.7GHz to 2.5GHz. Each core has a 512K L2 cache; while there is a 12MB shared L3 cache. It uses DDR3 SDRAM and Socket G34. It is basically two six-core “Istanbul” processor dies combined in a single package, with improved, dual DDR3 memory controllers and improved hyper-transport (HT) connections between the processor dies. There are also eight-core versions of the “Magny Cours”. The AMD Opteron 6100 “Magny Cours” is part of the high-end “Maranello” platform, which supports both two socket and four socket configurations. Each processor die has its own memory controller, so there are four DDR3 memory channels on “Magny Cours”. The “Magny Cours” requires a new socket called Socket G34. The “Magny Cours” is AMD’s best performing processor in the 2010 to mid-2011 timeframe. The “Magny Cours” seems to perform better with multi-threaded workloads because of its high physical core count and overall design. This makes it better suited for non-OLTP usage (such as reporting, data warehouses, etc.).
AMD is different from Intel in that they use the exact same processors in both two socket servers and in four socket (and above) servers. This makes it less confusing when you are looking at processor models, and makes it easier for systems vendors to design and build systems that use AMD processors.
One interesting fact is that there have been only four published TPC-E benchmarks for systems based on AMD processors vs. 36 published TPC-E benchmarks for systems based on Intel processors. Both the Intel Xeon X5680 and the Intel Xeon X7560 seem to do better than the AMD Opteron 6176 on TPC-E.
The AMD Opteron 6180 SE is the best performing CPU you can get from AMD until the AMD “Bulldozer” series is released, presumably in Q3 2011.