600 Million Transistors on

By eweek  |  Posted 2007-09-10 Print this article Print

a Chip"> Was there any frustration on the companys part, or on your part, that Barcelona did not come to the market sooner? Absolutely.
There is nothing that we would have been more excited about than getting it out earlier. But we are not making excuses. This is a damn difficult thing to do, as Im sure you can imagine. This is the first time that any company in the world has put 600 million transistors on a chip—and you can round that off and say its a billion.
This is 600 million transistors on a chip, four cores, complex technology and tremendous architectural features. If you could do it over again, would you have taken the approach to quad cores that Intel took with its Xeon processor, which basically ties two dual-core chips on the same silicon? This is one of those things that at some point in time you have to bite that bullet integrating that much technology on a chip. We felt that the quad core was the appropriate time to do that, and Im glad we did, even though we were disappointed that we couldnt be a little earlier. But now we have that experience, which is amazing. We now have a talented technical team that has been able to figure out 600 transistors on a chip, and we have a talented manufacturing team that [worked to make sure] that when you had something this complex, that all 600 million transistors worked, and they have done a phenomenal job. Read here about AMDs current road map. We have gone through a lot of learning, and, as we have publicly stated, the defect density for our quad-core technology is the lowest we have ever experienced. In all, people worry that we are not quite at the same node technically as our competition. The answer we give is that, yes, that is true, but we [made] a conscious decision to be earlier at other things, and we were earlier in being able to integrate this much technology [on a chip]. We have the HyperTransport technology with this chip that is pretty powerful and the architecture features, like the floating-point capabilities. [If you look at it] from that dimension, you can say we are six months to two years ahead. There is no question that in our minds, based on the data that we have from our partners, that this is the best virtualization machine that is out there. What about the fact that the clock speed that Barcelona will debut at—2GHz—is a lower clock speed than some customers and industry experts had expected? Being able to build this product was incredibly challenging. So, being able to benefit from the scaling of the frequency was also a big challenge. We made a decision, and we recognize that the part we can claim the strongest position in is performance per watt. So we made a decision that we were going to be out in the watt range—that really put us in a clear leadership position. This just happens to translate to a frequency of 2GHz. Frankly, I think we are going to surprise people. This is an area that we made a decision to come out in a place where we had the clearest and strongest position. I would predict to you that at the end of the year, people are going to be very pleasantly surprised in how well this is going to scale in frequency. Any estimates to where its going to scale by the end of the year? No. We are not ready to talk about that. Page 3: AMD Goes on the Offensive


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