AMD 'Shanghai' chip debuts at resellers

AMD's next-generation Shanghai quad-core Opteron processor has made an appearance at resellers.

Brooke Crothers
Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
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Advanced Micro Devices' first 45-nanometer chip, the Shanghai quad-core Opteron, has made its debut at resellers.

The officially unannounced Opteron 837X and 838X series processors are not cheap. Online reseller PC Connection lists the Opteron QC (quad-core) 8384 at $2,509. Another reseller, Buy.com lists the same processor at $2,240.

The 8384 is expected to run at 2.7GHz and draw 75 watts, relatively low power consumption for a quad-core server processor.

The 8385--same clock speed with a faster system bus--is offered for $2,509 at PC Connection.

Other processors listed include the 8382 (2.6GHz), 8380 (2.5GHz), and 8378 (2.4GHz), priced at $2,177, $1,768, and $1,360 respectively at PC Connection. Note that these prices will differ from official pricing from AMD.

The Shanghai Opteron 230X series includes the 2382 (2.6GHz) and 2380 (2.5GHz). These are priced at $1,019 and $814 respectively at PC Connnection.

Rollout of the chip is expected officially on November 13, according to industry sources.

AMD is hoping to make a much better impression with Shanghai. Its first quad-core chip, Barcelona, was rolled out in September 2007 to great fanfare only to be delayed a whopping eight months (or more, depending how the delay is calculated) due to production glitches and bugs. This gave Intel an opportunity to regain ground it had lost to AMD in the server chip market.

Shanghai is in full production right now, Pat Patla, general manager of AMD's server and workstation chip business said last month. The was confirmed during AMD's earnings conference call earlier this month.

Server vendors are expected to be shipping systems as early as this quarter. A Sun Microsystems spokesperson said Tuesday that it plans to offer Shanghai processors on its current x64 platforms running Barcelona. Systems using the new processors are targeted for the first quarter of 2009, the spokesperson said.

At the same clock frequency (speed), Shanghai will outperform Barcelona by about 20 percent, Patla said last month.

AMD is also boosting the size of the cache memory, which typically speeds performance, from 2 megabytes to 6 megabytes. Another speed improvement will come from increasing "instructions per clock."

Patla also said last month that AMD is "turning on HT3 (HyperTransport 3)"--a communication path between chips--and that partners will start to validate systems in the first quarter of next year with this technology.