The B3-Stepping Opterons Are Now Available

Advanced Micro Devices has blown new life into the processor market

AMD has just started shipping Opteron and Phenom processors in the long-awaited B3 silicon revision. After more than five months of continuous delays, the chip manufacturer has started shipping the first B3 processors to system integrators and its OEM partners.

The B3 silicon revision of the Opteron family can be easily identified by the "GH" branding, rather than B2's "GD" value stamped at the end of the product number.

AMD cut down shipments of any K10-based Opteron processors immediately after having encountered the TLB bug that caused the system to freeze when reaching full workload (most frequently in virtualized environments). However, the desktop version of the chip, branded as Phenom continued to ship, although the bug demanded a BIOS patch that would diminish its performance.

The first vendors to get the B3 stepping version of Opterons are extremely excited, given the fact that the chips used to be unavailable for quite a long time. "There's been no Opterons since November. We've even been shipping Socket F Opterons to fill AMD orders. This is a big deal," claimed one of the vendors anonymously.

The B3 revision of the chip fixes the TLB race condition, but also comes with a frequency boots. The company will initially pump up its production to fill the OEM orders, then release the B3 processors to channel vendors such as Newegg and TigerDirect. The retailers will get B3 Opteron chips with frequencies ranging from 1.8 GHz to 2.4 GHz. The retail availability date is slated sometime in early April.

However, AMD is working on Phenom and Opteron processors that will reach 2.6 GHz. They will also be built on the new B3 stepping and will become available later this year, most probably during the third or fourth quarter. The chip manufacturer will shift the chips from the 65-nanometer process to the 45-nanometer manufacturing node in 2009. The 45-nanometer chips will get the "Shanghai" codename and will be available with higher frequency clocks.

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