Servers don't get the credit they deserve. While gaming PCs, shiny new notebooks, and fashionable new phones take all the headlines, it's the dull noisy boxes that are shut away out of sight and out of mind that really power the connected world we live in today. So, even if you weren't planning on kitting out your home network with a new 16 core server, sit up straight, shoulders back, and pay attention.
AMD is today introducing its first processors produced using its new 45nm process. Codenamed Shanghai these new server CPUs bring with them 35 per cent more performance for the same power output and price as its previous chips.
What will really get IT managers salivating, though, is these are drop-in compatible with existing Socket F solutions. Just apply a BIOS update, whip your old Barcelona (that's 235x and 835x series) CPUs out and pop in the new ones and you're away. As you may have guessed, this also means Shanghai will continue to use cheap DDR2 memory rather than expensive FB-DIMM that Intel systems use.
If you don't fancy the idea of swapping CPUs yourself, though, there are already 32 OEMs with new complete systems based on these new Shanghai chips ready to buy.
As well as the move to a new manufacturing process, which makes for a large proportion of the power saving advances, there are a number of other under the bonnet improvements. L3 cache size has been doubled to 6MB, which apparently accounts for a huge increase in Java performance, and a new SmartFetch technology, which copies the contents of L1 and L2 cache into the shared L3 cache when a core is switched off, further helps power saving and performance.
Virtualisaion has also seen improvements, including an improved Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB), resulting in, amongst other things, virtual machine swap out speed increasing by 25 per cent.
Five processors are launching today and these all have TDPs of 75W and run at 2.3GHz through 2.7GHz. Come Q1 of next year 55W (HE) and 105W (SE) versions will also be available, for low power and high performance tasks respectively.
All we need now are those new 45nm desktop parts. Come on AMD...