The first capability is notable because at the time of Opteron's introduction, the only other 64-bit processor architecture marketed with 32-bit x86 compatibility (Intel's Itanium) ran x86 legacy-applications only with significant speed degradation. The second capability, by itself, is less noteworthy, as all major RISC makers (Sun SPARC, DEC Alpha, HP PA-RISC, IBM POWER, SGI MIPS, etc.) have had 64-bit implementations for many years. In combining these two capabilities, however, the Opteron earned recognition for its ability to run the vast installed base of x86 applications economically, while simultaneously offering an upgrade-path to 64-bit computing.
The Opteron processor possesses an integrated DDR SDRAM / DDR2 SDRAM (Socket AM2/F) memory controller. This both reduces the latency penalty for accessing the main RAM and eliminates the need for a separate northbridge chip.
In a variety of computing benchmarks, the Opteron architecture has demonstrated better multi-processor scaling than the Intel Xeon. This is primarily because adding an additional Opteron processor increases bandwidth, while that is not always the case for Xeon systems, and the fact that the Opterons use a switched fabric, rather than a shared bus. In particular, the Opteron's integrated memory controller allows the CPU to access local RAM very quickly. In contrast, multiprocessor Xeon system CPUs share only two common buses for both processor-processor and processor-memory communication. As the number of CPUs increases in a Xeon system, contention for the shared bus causes computing efficiency to drop.
In May 2005, AMD introduced its first "Multi-Core" Opteron CPUs. At the time, AMD's use of the term "Multi-Core" in practice meant "dual-core"; each physical Opteron chip contained two separate processor cores. This effectively doubled the computing-power available to each motherboard processor socket. One socket can now deliver the performance of two processors, two sockets can deliver the performance of four processors, and so on. Because motherboard costs increase dramatically as the number of CPU sockets increase, multicore CPUs enable a system of higher performance to be built at lower cost.
AMD's model number scheme 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 at 2.2 GHz each. AMD's fastest single-core Opteron at this time was the model 252, with one core running at 2.6 GHz. 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.
Second-Generation AMD Opteron processors are offered in three series: the 1000 Series (up to 1P/2-core), the 2000 Series (up to 2P/4-core), and the 8000 Series (4P/8-core to 8P/16-core). The 1000 Series is built on AMD's new Socket AM2. The 2000 Series and 8000 Series are built on AMD's new Socket F.
AMD launched it's Third-Generation Quad-core Opteron chips on September 10th, 2007 with hardware vendors to follow suit with servers in the following month. Based on a core design codenamed Barcelona, new power and thermal management techniques are planned for the chips. Existing dual core DDR2 based platforms will be upgradeable to quad core chips.
Socket AM2 Opterons are available for servers that only have a single-chip setup. These chips may prove to be as successful as the previous generation socket 939 Opterons due to the Opteron's overclockability. Codenamed Santa Ana, rev. F dual core AM2 Opterons feature 2×1 MiB L2 cache, unlike the majority of their Athlon 64 X2 cousins which feature 2x512 KiB L2 cache.
Socket F (LGA 1207 contacts) is AMD’s second generation of Opteron socket. This socket support processors such as the Santa Rosa, Barcelona and Shanghai codenamed processors. The “Lidded Land Grid Array” socket adds support for DDR2 SDRAM and improved HyperTransport version 3 connectivity. Physically the socket and processor package are nearly identical, although not generally compatible with socket 1207 FX
In the meantime, AMD has also utilized a new scheme to characterize the power consumption of new processors under "average" daily usage, named Average CPU Power (ACP).
For Socket F and Socket AM2 Opterons, the second digit (the Z) represents the processor generation. Presently, only 2 (dual-core, DDR2) and 3 (quad-core, DDR2) are used.
For all Opterons, the last two digits in the model number (the YY) indicate the clock frequency of a CPU, a higher number indicating a higher clock frequency. This speed indication is comparable to processors of the same generation if they have the same amount of cores, single-cores and dual-cores have different indications despite sometimes having the same clock frequency.
The suffix HE or EE indicates a high-efficiency/energy-efficiency model having a lower TDP than a standard Opteron. The suffix SE indicates a top-of-the-line model having a higher TDP than a standard Opteron.
A detailed list of Opteron microprocessors is here. The broad model families are:
On the November 2007 TOP500 list, 15.8% of the world's 500 fastest known supercomputer installations were AMD64 Opteron-based systems (down from 22.6% on 11/06), while 64.4% were Intel ia32e/EM64T/Intel 64 Xeon-based.
Supercomputers based on Opteron mentioned in the top 10 fastest supercomputers in the world:
AMD has released some Opteron processors without Optimized Power Management (OPM) support, which use DDR memory. The following table describes those processors lacking OPM.
| Max P-State |
| Min P-State |
|Model||Package-Socket||Core #|| Manufacturing |
|1400 MHz||N/A||140||Socket 940||1||130 nm||OSA140CEP5AT|
|1400 MHz||N/A||240||Socket 940||1||130 nm||OSA240CEP5AU|
|1400 MHz||N/A||840||Socket 940||1||130 nm||OSA840CEP5AV|
|1600 MHz||N/A||142||Socket 940||1||130 nm||OSA142CEP5AT|
|1600 MHz||N/A||242||Socket 940||1||130 nm||OSA242CEP5AU|
|1600 MHz||N/A||842||Socket 940||1||130 nm||OSA842CEP5AV|
|1600 MHz||N/A||242||Socket 940||1||90 nm||OSA242FAA5BL|
|1600 MHz||N/A||842||Socket 940||1||90 nm||OSA842FAA5BM|
|1600 MHz||N/A||260||Socket 940||2||90 nm||OSK260FAA6CB|
|1600 MHz||N/A||860||Socket 940||2||90 nm||OSK860FAA6CC|
AMD has recalled some E4 stepping-revision single-core Opteron processors, including x52 (2.6 GHz) and x54 (2.8 GHz) models which use DDR memory. The following table describes affected processors, as they are listed in AMD Opteron x52 and x54 Production Notice.
| Max P-State|
|2600 MHz||152||252||852||Socket 940|
|2800 MHz||N/A||254||854||Socket 940|
|2600 MHz||152||N/A||N/A||Socket 939|
|2800 MHz||154||N/A||N/A||Socket 939|
The affected processors may produce inconsistent results in the presence of three specific conditions occurring simultaneously:
A software verification tool for identifying the AMD Opteron processors listed in the above table that may be affected under these specific conditions is available only to AMD OEM partners. AMD will replace those processors at no charge.