AMD has introduced a low-power variant of its six-core Opteron server chip, which is codenamed Istanbul.

The Opteron 2419 EE draws up to 40W of power, which almost equals the lowest power drawn by AMD's existing quad-core line of Opteron server chips codenamed Shanghai. The new chip provides 30 percent more performance compared to quad-core Opterons in the same power band, the company said.

The improved performance could help cut energy costs and consolidate servers in data centres, AMD said.

The processor runs at a speed of about 2.0GHz and includes 512KB of L2 cache per core, with 6MB of common L3 cache.

The processor is designed for server deployments in which power consumption trumps raw performance, AMD said. Like other Opteron chips, the new processor has a power management feature called AMD-P, which can reduce the processing speed of cores to drop power consumption, or cap the power drawn by a system via the BIOS. A chip also includes AMD-V, a hardware extension that helps the processor better use hardware resources in virtualised environments.

The processor is priced at $989 and began shipping on Monday. AMD also offers six-core processors at the 55W and 75W power bands. AMD competes in the server processor space with Intel, which offers Xeon chips.