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AMD Istanbul Launch: Shipping Today

June 1, 2009
AMD Opteron "Istanbul" 6-core processor die

AMD Opteron "Istanbul" 6-core processor die

June 1, 2009 – Today, AMD is announcing the general availability of its new single-die, 6-core Opteron processor code named “Istanbul.” We have weighed-in on the promised benefits of Istanbul based on pre-release material that was not under non-disclosure protections. Now, we’re able to disclose the rest of the story.

First, we got a chance to talk to Mike Goddard, AMD Server Products CTO, to discuss Istanbul and how G34/C32 platforms are shaping-up. According to Goddard,”things went really well with Istanbul; it’s no big secret that the silicon we’re using in Istanbul is the same silicon we’re using in Magny-Cours.” Needless to say, there are many more forward-thinking capabilities in Istanbul than can be supported in Socket-F’s legacy chipsets.

“We had always been planning a refresh to Socket-F with 5690,” says Goddard, “but Istanbul got pulled-in beyond our ability to pull-in the chipset.” Consequently, while there could be Socket-F platforms based on the next-generation 5690/5100 chipset, Goddard suggests that “most OEM’s will realign their platform development around [G34/C32, Q1/2010].”

In common parlance, Istanbul is a “genie in a bottle,” and we won’t see its true potential until it resurfaces in its Magny-Cours/G34 configuration. However, at few of these next-generation tweaks will trickle-down to Socket-F systems:

  • AMD PowerCap Manager (via BIOS extensions)
  • Enhanced AMD PowerNow! Technology
  • AMD CoolCore Technology extended to L3 cache
  • HT Assist (aka probe filter) for increase memory bandwidth
  • HT 3.0 with increase to 4.8GT/sec and IMC improvements
  • 5 new part SKUs
  • Better 2P Performance Parity with Nehalem-EP

That’s in addition to 50% more cores in the same power envelope: not an insignificant improvement. In side-by-side comparisons to “Shanghai” quad-core at the same clock frequency, Istanbul delivers 2W lower idle power and 34% better SPECpower ssj_2008 (1,297 overall) results using identical systems with just a processor swap. In fact, the only time Istanbul exceeded Shanghai’s average power envelope was at 80% actual load and beyond – remaining within 5% of the Shanghai even at 100% load. Read the rest of this entry ?

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