In late May youâ€™ll be able to buy the two way 265 ($851), 270 ($1,051) and 275 ($1,299) models, and while we assume that AMD will also release 165, 170 and 175 models, we have to wonder if a single dual core processor has a place in the workstation market if the processor is relatively expensive.
Youâ€™re probably aware that AMD will also be releasing the dual core desktop Athlon 64 X2 in June. These processors will continue to use the numbering system which attempts to relate performance to a Socket A 1.4GHz Athlon. There will be four models in the Athlon 64 X2 range starting with the 4200+ ($537), 4400+ ($581), 4600+ ($803) and the 4800+ at $1,001. Weâ€™re not certain about clock speeds as these can vary depending on the amount of cache that is used in a given model but we believe that the 4800+ will have the same 2.4GHz clock speed as the single core Athlon 64 4000+.
As AMD doesnâ€™t use Hyper-Threading each dual core Opteron appears as two processors in the Operating System, so in that respect the dual core Opteron is similar to Intelâ€™s Pentium D, but its real competition is Xeon. We know that Xeon will move to a dual core architecture but not until later in the year, and unless there are some dramatic shifts then Xeon will continue to be a two-way processor while Xeon MP will be a four-way design, leaving Opteron and its Hyper Transport links with an open field in the eight-way server market. Because Opteron has the memory controller as part of the processor core it has a simpler path between the processor and memory than Xeon as it doesnâ€™t have to negotiate with the North Bridge of the chipset.
In recent times Intel has had major issues with the high power requirements of its processors and as a direct consequence it has also had to deal with high levels of waste heat. It would be daft to prejudge the dual core Xeon, but itâ€™ll do well to match the 95 Watts TDP (Thermal Design Power) for a dual core Opteron when you consider that the 3.6GHz Irwindale has a TDP of 110W and you have to add about 20 Watts for the memory controller in the Northbridge. There are also HE versions of Opteron with a 55 Watt TDP and EE versions that have a TDP of 30 Watts.