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AMD adds to its Opteron array

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices dishes out two new Opteron models, one for single-processor machines and and the other for systems with 4 or 8 processors.

Advanced Micro Devices on Tuesday increased the ranks of its family of 64-bit Opteron server processors with two new models.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., chipmaker launched the Opteron Model 846, designed for servers with 4 or 8 processors, and the Opteron Model 146 for single-processor machines.

The new chips round out AMD's Opteron family by offering more performance for a broader range of servers. They join the Opteron Model 246, a 2GHz chip designed for dual-processor servers, which debuted in August.

In line with AMD's Opteron numbering scheme, the new chips should operate at 2GHz. The first numeral in the Opteron model number represents the kind of server a chip is designed for. A Model 100 was created for single-processor machines, a Model 200 for dual-processor machines and a Model 800 for 8-processor machines. The second two numbers reflect performance. A Model 846 running at 2GHz will provide more performance than a Model 844 running at 1.8GHz, for example.

When combined with the Opteron Model 246, the Model 146 and Model 846 represent the first sweeping performance boost for the Opteron family, which made its debut in April.

So far, Opteron has met with some success. IBM is using the Opteron Model 246 in its eServer 325, a rack-mount machine designed for computing clusters. Clusters string together large numbers of otherwise standard computers in order to create powerful computers that can tackle heavy-duty jobs such as crunching numbers for medical research.

Later this month, AMD plans to launch the Athlon64, Opteron's sister chip, designed to help desktop and notebook PCs handle 64-bit processing. One of the main benefits of moving to 64 bits is allowing computers to use more RAM, which speeds application performance, especially in servers.

AMD set the prices of the Opteron models 146 and 846 at $669 and $3,199, respectively. The prices reflect processors purchased in 1,000-unit quantities, meaning street prices may be higher or lower.