AMD's Opteron 165 and 180 Processors

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AMD'S Opteron 100 series processors have led a difficult existence. For most of their run, they've been sojourning in the wilderness of single-plug Socket 940 motherboards?a lonely and desolate place, to be sure. They've had to suffer in relative obscurity as their siblings and cousins, the Opteron 200 series and the Athlon 64, have gone on to resounding success. That's gotta damage a chip's psychological makeup.

With the move to dual-core CPUs, though, the Opteron 100 series looks poised for success. After all, if you can get essentially two Opteron processors into a single-socket motherboard, you've got low-end server and workstation nirvana. To facilitate such things, AMD has sought to free the Opteron 100 series from prior constraints by moving some pins around on the underside of the chips. As a result, the new dual-core Opteron 100 processors will drop into a plain ol' Socket 939 motherboard and communicate happily with a pack of unbuffered DIMMs, just like an Athlon 64.

This change has most likely provoked a whole other bundle of pyschological issues?namely, an identity crisis. Take the Opteron 180, for example. With 1MB of L2 cache for each of its two CPU cores and a 2.4GHz clock frequency, the 180 looks for all the world like an Athlon 64 X2 4800+. The main difference between the two? The name, pretty much. Now, that doesn't make the Opteron 180 a bad product?far from it, in fact?but it may never escape comparisons to its Athlon 64 doppelganger.

The Opteron 100 series seems to have developed a tendency to overcompensate as a result of this troubled legacy, and the Opteron 165 is the apparent result. This unassuming processor is among the cheapest of AMD's dual-core processors, with a 1.8GHz clock rate and 1MB of L2 cache. Yet when plugged into an obliging enthusiast-class motherboard, the Opteron 165's overclocking prowess has earned it a rep for being more dangerous than Dick Cheney with a 20-gauge full of birdshot. How do these two dual-core Opteron processors fit into the larger picture, and will they ever find inner peace? Let's see what we can see.

The TechReport