AMD finally launches its first Bulldozer

AMD has announced its first product to feature processing cores based around the new Bulldozer Interlagos architecture, but before you get excited: it's for servers only.

The AMD Opteron 6200 is the first in AMD's Interlagos server-oriented lineup, and promises pin compatibility with the company's existing Opteron 6100 Socket G34-based chips. As a result, those with Magny-Cours systems - popular in the server world thanks to its extremely high density of twelve cores per chip and up to four chips per system, allowing the creation of 48-core servers - will be able to use the 6200 as a drop-in upgrade.

The reason for upgrading is, AMD claims, obvious: unlike the twelve processing cores of a Magny-Cours-based Opteron 6100, the Interlagos-based 6200 boasts sixteen physical processing cores overall. Unlike its predecessor, however, it loses out in floating-point units: while the Magny-Cours architecture has, as is traditional, a single FPU per core, the Iterlagos architecture shares one FPU and fetch/decode/execute between two processing cores.

The result is a CPU comprised of eight Bulldozer modules, meaning 16 processing cores but only 8 FPUs. AMD's claim is that this won't have any appreciable effect on performance, and may - in certain cases - even boost speeds thanks to the ability for two processing cores to cooperate through shared hardware.

The company claims that much of the initial production run of Opteron 6200 chips has been set aside for supercomputing applications, where compute density is king, and fails to offer a suggestion of retail pricing for the units when they finally arrive.

AMD is also quiet on Zambezi, its desktop-oriented Bulldozer-based chips. Designed for use by high-end desktop systems for a more sensible price than the Interlagos range, Zambezi processors will offer four Bulldozer units for a total of eight processing cores and four FPUs, AMD fans and performance enthusiasts have been waiting patiently - but AMD seems determined to keep the chips in the lab until every last kink is ironed out.

The silence is worrying, however: sources speaking to the guys over at X-bit Labs claim that the company has cancelled its Komodo and Corona products in favour of concentrating on Vishera desktop products next year - a codename which represents Zambezi's successor, and suggests a rapid turnaround which could leave Zambezi with a very short shelf life if it doesn't launch soon.

Little is known about Vishera, but the chips are expected to include up to eight next-generation Piledriver cores, an on-board dual-channel DDR3 memory controller, and feature backwards compatiblity with AM3+ motherboards based on the AMD 990FX chipset.