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AMD's latest server chip 'Shanghai' to launch next week

Melissa Chua | Nov. 13, 2008
Company exec hints market should see Shanghai-based server products soon

SINGAPORE, 13 NOVEMBER 2008 Troubled chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), which last month posted its eighth consecutive quarterly loss, is hoping to reverse its fortunes with next week's launch of its latest server processor, codenamed Shanghai.

Shanghai', a quad-core chip based on the 45-nanometre manufacturing process, is expected to be available next week, ahead of its scheduled release in the first quarter of next year. The chip is AMD's latest addition to its high-end Opteron family of processors.

Bart Arnold, commercial product marketing manager, AMD, hinted that 20 to 30 Shanghai-based server products, mostly from AMD's OEM partners Dell, HP and Sun, will also hit the market, alongside the chip's launch.

Lessons learnt

According to Arnold, AMD's problem-ridden rollout of its previous server processor, Barcelona, proved a wake-up call for the company. Barcelona, a quad-core chip based on the older 65-nanometre manufacturing process, was first released last September after a two-month delay, but technical glitches caused sales to be halted soon after shipping. Volume sales for Barcelona only resumed six months later, causing AMD to lose valuable market share to its rival, Intel.

There was such a sharp examination after Barcelona that we rolled Shanghai out earlier than scheduled, said Arnold. We're several months ahead of schedule, that's faster than any other processor we've released.

Arnold also stated that Shanghai had gone through rigorous tests, and would not see the glitches its predecessor suffered from.

We've done all the testing, qualification and certification for Shanghai, and we're not going to see that [Barcelona] cycle repeat itself, said Arnold. We have great confidence in the OEM testing process, and they, our OEM partners, went through this with forceps.

Focus on new tech

According to Arnold, Shanghai will primarily target emerging computing trends such as virtualisation, cloud computing, and high performance computing, due to what AMD claims is the chip's ability to perform well under heavy server workloads.

We are very serious about virtualisation, and also believe that cloud computing will take off, and succeed where grid computing largely failed, said Arnold, who also stressed that the company was not concerned with a chip's benchmark scores but its ability to handle applications.

Cost-conscious

Shanghai is expected to provide a 35 per cent performance boost on average over Barcelona, while consuming 35 per cent less power, according to Arnold. The 2.5 GHz version of Shanghai will be priced very competitively at US$698 (S$1,052), versus a 2.3 GHz version of Barcelona which retails at US$690 (S$1,048).

The first Shanghai chip, a 75-watt model, will be available worldwide next week, while two other models, a 55-watt and 105-watt version, targeted at blade servers and heavy workload servers respectively, will ship in the first quarter of next year.

 

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