Rumor: Get ready for 12-core Opterons

AMD executives revealed during the latest earnings conference call that Shanghai, the company’s upcoming 45nm quad-core processor, will start shipping in volume in the fourth quarter of this year. According to a news post by DailyTech, though, the execs failed to mention that AMD is also planning six- and 12-core 45nm CPUs based on the Shanghai design.

Quoting an anonymous AMD engineer, DailyTech says Shanghai’s six-core cousin will be a native, single-die part code-named Istanbul. The chip will likely be a server model aimed at Intel’s Dunnington, which is also a single-die product and is scheduled to ship in the second half of the year. AMD won’t stop there, though—DailyTech goes on to say two separate sources have told it of upcoming 12-core CPUs made up of two six-core Istanbul dies on one package.

If this rumor is true, AMD will mimic the approach Intel adopted for its current quad-core x86 designs, which are all based on dual-core dies. However, where the Intel dies use the front-side bus to communicate with each other, a pair of Istanbul dies would presumably be able to talk directly via HyperTransport links.

Surprisingly, DailyTech quotes motherboard manufacturers as saying Shanghai’s six- and 12-core cousins will all be compatible with existing Socket 1207 (a.k.a. Socket F) motherboards. “Socket 1207+” mobos will reportedly be needed to take advantage of the future chips’ faster HyperTransport 3.0 connectivity, though.

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