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The AMD Opteron is the first eighth-generation x86 processor (K8 core), and the first of AMD's AMD64 (x86-64) processors, released April 22, 2003. It is intended to compete in the server market, particularly in the same segment as the Intel Xeon processor.

The TOP500 list currently ranks an Opteron-powered machine at the Dawning 4000A project in China as the tenth fastest supercomputer in the world.


Technical description

The Opteron's main advantage is the ability to run existing 32-bit applications without speed penalties, as well as the 64-bit applications that can directly access more than 4 GB of RAM (the physical limit of a 32-bit system).

The processor has an integrated DDR SDRAM memory controller, avoiding the need for a northbridge and reducing the latency penalty for accessing the main RAM. Although the memory controller may be supplanted by an external chip as new memory technologies enter the market, one will then lose the benefits of an in-core controller (thus necessitating the release of new processors with updated memory controllers to match the speed of new memory technologies). Also, because each Opteron has its own memory controller and bank of memory, Opteron servers scale better than Xeon servers across CPUs. Whereas Xeons have to share a diminishing memory bandwidth as the number of processors increases, Opterons have no such drawback as memory bandwidth increases with each CPU added.

In multi-processor systems (more than one Opteron on a single motherboard), the CPUs communicate using the Direct Connect Architecture over high-speed HyperTransport links. Each CPU can access the main memory of another processor, transparent to the programmer. The Opteron approach to multi-processing is not the same as standard symmetric multiprocessing as instead of having one bank of memory for all CPUs, each CPU has its own memory. As of early 2005, even though the Opteron is capable of 8-way processing, almost all motherboards support only one or two CPUs, and only Tyan supports four CPUs.

In May of 2005, AMD introduced its first multicore Opteron CPU's. The term "multicore" refers to the fact that each physical Opteron chip actually contains two separate processor cores. This allows AMD to essentially fit two CPU's in each motherboard processor socket. Systems with one socket can now have two processors, where before they could only have one. Dual-CPU systems similarly can now function as if they were quad-processor systems, and quad-processor systems would behave as if they were eight-processor systems. Since motherboard costs go up dramatically as the number of CPU sockets increases, multicore CPU's now allow much higher performing systems to be built with more affordable motherboards.

AMD's model number schema has changed somewhat in light of its new multicore lineup. At the time of its introduction, AMD's fastest multicore Opteron was the model 875, with two cores running a 2.2 gigahertz each. AMD's fastest single-core Opteron at this time was the model 252, with one core running at 2.6 gigahertz. For multithreaded applications, the model 875 would be much faster than the model 252, but for single threaded applications the model 252 would perform faster.


Each chip has a three-digit model number, in the form "Opteron xyy". The first digit (the x) specifies the number of CPUs on the target machine:

The last two digits in the model number (the yy) give an indication of the speed of the CPU.

Opteron (130 nm SOI)

  • SledgeHammer (1yy, 2yy, 8yy)
  • CPU-Steppings: B3, C0, CG
  • L1-Cache: 64 + 64 KB (Data + Instructions)
  • L2-Cache: 1024 KB, fullspeed
  • MMX, Extended 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, AMD64
  • Socket 940, 800 MHz HyperTransport
  • Registered DDR SDRAM required, ECC possible
  • VCore: 1.50V - 1.55V
  • First Release: September 23, 2003
  • Clockrate: 1400 - 2400 MHz (x40 - x50)

Opteron (90 nm SOI)

  • Venus (1yy), Troy (2yy), Athens (8yy)
  • CPU-Steppings: E4
  • L1-Cache: 64 + 64 KB (Data + Instructions)
  • L2-Cache: 1024 KB, fullspeed
  • MMX, Extended 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, AMD64
  • Socket 940, 1000 MHz HyperTransport
  • Registered DDR SDRAM required, ECC possible
  • VCore: 1.35V - 1.4V
  • Enhanced Virus Protection (NX Bit)
  • Optimized Power Management (OPM)
  • First Release: February 14, 2005
  • Clockrate: 1600 - 2600 MHz (x42 - x52)

See also

External links

Template:AMD processorsde:AMD Opteron es:AMD Opteron nl:Opteron ja:Opteron pl:Opteron zh:Opteron it:Opteron


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