On Monday, the chip designer released both 8- and 16-core server processors based on its modular “Bulldozer” architecture — the Opteron 4200 and 6200 — in a bid to remain relevant in the market for chips that power cloud services, corporate data centers, and supercomputers. The market is dominated by arch-rival Intel, and there’s fresh competition from the makers of low-power embedded processors, including ARM chips.
The new chips arrive after the company sliced its workforce by 11 percent, saying it needed to cut costs in order to keep pace with rivals like Intel. With the chips, the company is looking to improve on its small and eroding share of the server market. At the end of the third quarter this year, Intel’s share of the PC server processor market stood at 95.1%, while AMD topped out at 4.9%, according to IDC.
AMD is targeting the processors at the three main segments of the server market: corporate data centers using virtualization technology, web-scale data centers supporting public and private clouds, and high-performance computing. “You’ve got to be, to some degree, everything to everyone,” said John Fruehe, director of product marketing for AMD’s server products.
The Opteron 6200 ups the number of cores in an x86 server processor to 16, though it’s hard to make a direct comparison to processors with traditional cores. Each Bulldozer module consists of a pair of integer units and a floating point unit that share resources, including cache. Each integer unit has four pipelines, and each floating-point unit has two floating-point processors. Eight modules yields a processor with 16 cores. In traditional multi-core processors, each integer unit has its own set of resources.