AMD Opteron (K8)

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Production: 2003 to 2006
Producer: AMD
Processor clock: 1.4 GHz to 3.0 GHz
HT cycle: 800 MHz to 1000 MHz
L2 cache size: 1 MiB
Instruction set : x86 / AMD64
Microarchitecture : AMD K8 / AMD64
Names of the processor cores:
  • Sledgehammer
  • Troy
  • Athens
  • Venus

The AMD Opteron series based on the AMD K8 architecture is a family of 64-bit microprocessors for servers and workstations . It was the series with which AMD was able to achieve great successes in the server market for the first time, which was partly due to the introduced AMD64 extension. It was replaced by the AMD K9 based Opteron processors.


Unlike Intel's competing products, the Intel Itanium (in IA-64 architecture), the new Opteron processors were still able to run not only 64-bit programs, but also 32-bit x86 programs in hardware without a slowing emulation layer , since the AMD64 architecture is only a 64-bit add-on to an x86 processor. Old software can continue to be used, within certain limits even mixed with 64-bit software.

In addition to the 64-bit capability, the first Opteron generation offered a further innovation, an integrated dual-channel memory controller, which requires the use of "Registered DDR-SDRAM " in almost all models . ECC memory is also supported, which is almost a matter of course for a server processor.

Unlike its desktop counterpart, the Athlon 64 , the Opteron processor was only supplied in the Socket 940 for a long time . The additional 186 contacts compared to the 754 socket are required, among other things, for a second memory channel and additional HyperTransport interfaces with which the integrated memory controller for DDR-SDRAM can communicate with the memory controllers of the other processors that may be present in the multiprocessor system in order to access their memory . In contrast to many other multiprocessor solutions, the Opteron no longer has a shared memory that all processors access, but each chip has its own memory area, which can be accessed by other processors ( see also: NUMA ). In theory, this means that the northbridge chip on the motherboard is superfluous, since its only remaining task would be to connect an AGP graphics card, which is rarely found in pure server systems.

Product history

The silicon chip (die) of an Opteron 8xx


The microprocessor developed under the code name Sledgehammer was presented as the first Opteron on April 21, 2003 . With these processors, AMD attracted attention for the first time and was able to achieve success in the very profitable server segment. The 32-bit predecessor, AMD Athlon MP , was never very successful there. Sledgehammer was suitable for systems with one, two or eight processors (1xx, 2xx and 8xx series).

On February 17, 2004, AMD presented two types specially optimized for low power consumption: the Opteron EE and the Opteron HE. The EE only consumed a maximum of 30 watts and the HE only consumed a  maximum of 55 W, instead of a maximum of 89 W with the standard Opterons. These versions cost considerably more because of the special selection and were used particularly in blade servers and HPC clusters .

Troy & Athens

On February 14, 2005, AMD presented the Troy (2xx series) and Athens (8xx series) cores, a new generation of Opteron processors in E-stepping (90 nm production) that replaced the old models (130 nm production ) replace. In addition, the x52 Opterons with a clock rate of 2,600 MHz were presented. E-stepping brings further improvements to the memory controller, lower power consumption, an increase in the clock rate of the HyperTransport links to 1,000 MHz and adds some additional instruction sets such as B. SSE3 added. In addition, with the Optimized Power Management ( OPM ) power saving technology , the Cool'n'Quiet, already known in the Athlon 64, is introduced in the Opteron, albeit slightly modified so that it also works with registered memory .


In parallel with the dual-core processors for Socket 939 of the K9 generation , AMD introduced the Venus core for Socket 939 on August 2, 2005 in order to be able to offer cheaper single-processor systems in contrast to the versions for Socket 940 with the Sledgehammer core .

Model numbers

The Opteron of the K8 generation use a model numbering consisting of a three-digit number:

  • The first digit indicates how many other processors the processor can be used with on the motherboard (scalability: 1, 2 or up to 8)
  • The last two digits encode the processor clock. In general, a larger number here indicates a higher speed. This generation of Opteron processors has the model numbers x40 (1,400 MHz), x42 (1,600 MHz) to x56 (3,000 MHz).


  • Opteron 240: Single core processor for systems with two processors, 1st generation, 1,400 MHz clock frequency
  • Opteron 844: Single core processor for systems with four to eight processors, 1st generation, 1,800 MHz clock frequency

Model data socket 940

All processors for Socket 940 have a memory controller with two channels (144 bit, dual-channel operation ) for Registered DDR-SDRAM .


Opteron 846

Venus (1xx)

Troy (2xx) / Athens (8xx)

Model data socket 939

All processors for Socket 939 have a memory controller with two channels (144 bits, dual-channel operation ) for DDR-SDRAM .


Opteron 146, socket 939

See also