Keeping Up the Heat
The first distinguishing characteristic of Barcelona AMD will highlight is its design, which allows for four x86 processing cores on a single piece of silicon. By comparison, Intels quad-core processor ties two dual-core chips onto a single piece of silicon. In addition to the 2.0GHz clock speed, Shaw said that the quad-core Opteron processor will work within the same thermal envelope as the companys dual-core chips.Click here to read more about AMDs quad-core desktop chips. The result, Shaw said, is not only better performance but also better performance per watt. "With typical servers workloads, we will be able to show a 40 to 50 percent increase in performance, and in some cases, as much as a 70 percent improvement," Shaw said. Some of the other advancements that AMD will highlight in advance of the Barcelona launch include the chips Direct Connect Architecture, which allows improved memory and bandwidth by directly connecting memory to the CPU. It also allows the direct connection of CPUs to one another. Direct Connect is also a way for AMD to distinguish itself from the front-side bus technology that Intel uses in its processors. There is also AMDs PowerNow technology, which works with the operating system and can increase or reduce the amount of power to the chip depending on the demand. This technology allows the chip to throttle back the power when the demand is low, which saves energy. There are other features contained in Barcelona that Shaw said the company would detail when the processor is released in August. At the same time, AMD also plans to unveil some benchmark results that will show the increases in performance when running applications. Shaw declined to discuss pricing for the new processor. In addition to the chip technology, Barcelona will use the same 1,207-pin socket that is now used with the dual-core Opteron, which will allow usersonce the BIOS are upgradedto switch to the quad-core processor. Shaw anticipates that the launch will include one-way, two-way and four-way systems. A full list of OEMs that will offer the quad-core Opteron will likely not be known until September, when vendors start rolling out the first systems. However, at the Computex trade show, which was held in Taipei, Taiwan, earlier in June, three vendorsSupermicro, Tyan Computer and Uniwide Computerannounced that they would build systems based on the Barcelona processor. Click here to read more about the companies offering quad-core Opterons. At least one top-tier OEM has hinted at its plans for Barcelona. Sun Microsystems announced June 26 that its new supercomputerConstellationwill use the quad-core AMD processor. When Sun introduced a new blade architecture earlier this month, executives said the new systems will be able to upgrade from dual-core to quad-core Opterons as well. With Barcelona launching in August, Intel does not plan to stand still. In the third quarter of 2007, the company will launch its "Caneland" platform for MP, or multiprocessor, systemsan area in which Opteron has made some significant headway. Later this year, Intel will unveil its "Penryn" family of processors that will start the company along 45-nanometer manufacturing. Barcelona is based on 65-nanometer manufacturing, although AMD is preparing a 45-nanometer shrink for 2008. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
While not offering specifics on the quad-core chips, the companys dual-core Opterons have thermal envelopes of 68-, 95- and 120-watts. Barcelona, Shaw said, would fall within the 68- to 95-watt range.