AMD today officially launched its latest offensive against rival Intel in the server market, releasing a line of 8- and 12-core processors referred to as Magny-Cours. The chips feature a new 45nm design made up of two processor dies (with 4 or 6 cores each) sharing a single CPU package, which will fit in a brand-new G34 socket, while offering newer I/O technologies and four DDR3 memory channels for supporting up to 12 memory modules per processor.

The series will be sold under the Opteron 6100 name starting with a 1.8GHz, 8-core version known as the 6124 HE, and going all the way up to a 2.3-GHz 12-core version dubbed 6176 SE. The first is an energy efficient part using 65 watts of what AMD calls "average CPU power" and costs $455, while the latter uses 105 watts and has a list price of $1,386. In between are a number of other 8- and 12-core versions, including the 8-core 6128 which will sell for just $266.

Not surprisingly, AMD claims its Opteron 6100 series processors are notably faster than its 6-core (Istanbul) predecessors, boasting an 88% increase in integer performance and a 119% increase in floating point performance. All Opteron 6100 chips should work in either two- or four-socket configurations. Meanwhile, Intel is also planning an 8-core chip aimed at multiprocessor servers, known as "Nehalem-EX," which should be formally shipping soon.