Tech Report looked at a demo of the 6-core Istanbul Opteron.
AMD showed several demonstrations of Istanbul silicon in action. The first was a simple showing of Task Manager on the Windows Server 2008 desktop, in which the utility showed activity indicators for each of the 24 cores in a quad-socket system.
The second demo was conducted on a dual-socket system with 12 cores. The main OS was Windows Server 2008, but the system also hosted three separate virtual machines: one each for Windows Server 2003, Red Hat Linux, and SLES 11 x64. Each VM had four cores dedicated to it.
The third demo was the most interesting for a couple of reasons. First, because it was intended to show how Istanbul can serve as a drop-in upgrade for Socket F systems. The only requirements: the system must support split power planes, and it must have a BIOS upgrade to operate with the new processors. Second, the demo was impressive because it included a performance test. Two otherwise-identical systems were situated side by side: one with a quartet of Shanghai Opterons, the other with four Istanbul chips. Both systems were running with HyperTransport 3 active—a capability coming soon to Shanghai Opterons but not yet available in current products. To illustrate the performance difference between the two boxes, the AMD tech ran a Stream benchmark. The 16-core Shanghai system produced throughput numbers in the range of 25,000 MB/s. The 24-core Istanbul box, by contrast, hit about 42,000 MB/s.
Scheduled to launch in the second half of this year, “Istanbul” is expected to be the only x86 six-core processor available for two and four-socket systems and higher.
This video indicates the consistency of AMD's architecture and upgrade from the Quad-Core AMD Opteron Processors to Six-Core AMD Opteron Processors (Istanbul):
The second video shows Istanbul running on a 2P virtualization platform, highlighting Istanbul's virtualization capabilities:
Thanks to a reader who informed me about those videos :-)