Advanced Micro Devices last week said it will release a six-core Opteron processor in June, five months ahead of schedule. And it detailed plans to add chips supporting up to 12 cores next year and 16 in 2011.

AMD, which reported a $416 million first-quarter loss last week, said the six-core server chip, code-named Istanbul, will provide up to a 30% performance boost over current quad-core Opterons while using the same amount of power.
Istanbul will be followed early next year by a chip code-named Magny-Cours, which will ship in eight- and 12-core models, AMD said. And in 2011, the company plans to release a processor called Interlagos, which will be offered with 12 and 16 cores.

Insight64 analyst Nathan Brookwood said AMD is trying to get ahead of Intel, which released its six-core Xeon 7400 server chip last September and plans to add an eight-core processor code-named Nehalem EX next year.
Intel "clearly has seized the performance advantage" in the server market, he said, but AMD officials think Istanbul "will keep them very competitive over the next year, and then going to 12 cores in 2010 will keep them competitive when Intel comes out with eight."