Sigh, Opteron Nomenclature

When AMD launched the Athlon XP, we were huge fans of the processor but had serious issues with AMD's naming system. AMD's modeling system has been relatively successful from the standpoint that very few users seem to know (or care?) what clock speed their Athlon XPs are running at, and refer to their processors solely by model number. One major flaw with AMD's model number system was that Athlon MP processors, AMD's K7 based server/workstation CPUs, received model numbers based on performance in desktop applications; with the Opteron, AMD has finally divided how they model desktop and server/workstation CPUs.

The Opteron modeling system consists of a simple three digit number, xyz. The first digit, x, indicates the total number of these processors you can use in a SMP system. For example, a 200 series Opteron could be used in both 1-way and 2-way systems, whereas an 800 series Opteron could be used in 1-way, 2-way, 4-way and 8-way systems.

The remaining digits, yz, are relative performance indicators, with little information given to exactly how they are derived. All we know is that an Opteron x44 is faster than an Opteron x42, but that could be because of clock speed, cache size or Hyper Transport link speed among other things; like it or not, it's what you'll have to deal with.

AMD is launching three Opteron flavors today, two of which should be available at the time of publication with the highest clocked offering seeing mass market availability in June.

AMD Opteron Model Numbers
CPU Name
Clock Speed
Opteron 244
Opteron 242
Opteron 240

As we've mentioned before, the Opteron is launching at 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8GHz, carrying model numbers 240, 242 and 244 respectively. There are no differences between the three model numbers other than clock speed.

What's interesting to note is that AMD has hit higher frequencies than 1.8GHz on their non-SOI 0.13-micron process (remember the Athlon XP 2800/3000+ both run at above 2.0GHz), which leaves us wondering why AMD chose to launch at such conservative frequencies with Opteron. It could either be that hitting higher frequencies is going to take a little more effort because of kinks in the 0.13-micron SOI process, or AMD is attempting to launch with as low a clock speed as possible yet still remain competitive in order to effectively save their strength for when it's absolutely necessary.

An excellent heatsink mounting mechanism Opteron Chipsets
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