AMD has released six new Opteron processors designed for low-power applications such as blade servers and clusters.

According to the company, the new processors consume less power than standard Opterons, allowing them to be used in denser products such as thin blade servers or clustered workstations.

The announcement comes right before the opening of the Spring Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, where Intel is expected to demonstrate a processor that adds 64-bit extensions to the 32-bit x86 instruction set. The Opteron processor has been the only processor on the market thus far that brings that capability to x86 servers, and has won the backing of server vendors such as IBM and Sun Microsystems. Of the two new categories of Opteron, the HE series consumes 55W, while the EE series consumes 30W, compared to last year's new Opterons which consume more than 80W, with the high-end 148, 248, and 848 chips consuming 89 watts at 2GHz. AMD markets Opterons in three categories. The 100 series is designed for one-way servers and workstations, the 200 series for two-way servers, while the 800 series is aimed at four-way and eight-way servers. Both HE and EE versions were announced in each category. In quantities of 1,000 units, the Opteron 840 EE and 846 HE both cost US$1,514, the Opteron 240 EE and 246 HE cost $851, and the Opteron 140 EE and 146 HE cost $733. An AMD spokesperson said that the company only issues CPU prices in US dollars. AMD is taking orders for the processors as of Tuesday, and will ship the chips worldwide within 30 days, it said. Power consumption appears to be one of the most pressing issues for chip designers heading into the new year. Low-power designs dominated this week's ISSC in San Francisco, where several companies showed off their next-generation designs.