Page Two

By Mark Hachman  |  Posted 2004-09-09 Print this article Print

Williams wouldnt say exactly how Pacifica would demonstrate an advance over the Intel Vanderpool and Silvervale technologies, but he also indicated that AMD wouldnt blindly follow Intels lead, either. Instead of the OS-independent Wake on LAN capability employed by Intel AMT, Williams said he defined "manageability" in terms of hardware characteristics—relaying information about the temperature of a microprocessor or whether a hard drive was about to fail back to the third-party management software. Like Intels Talwalkar, AMDs Williams wouldnt say which processor technology would be used where. AMD is set to launch a dual-core processor for the client—most likely the desktop, although Williams declined to specify—in the second half of 2005, as well as a dual-core Opteron chip for servers and workstations in mid-2005. AMD is scheduled to present details of its dual-core architecture at the Fall Processor Forum in October, hosted by analyst firm In-Stat/MDR.
AMDs dual-core architecture is based around DirectConnect, which is based on the HyperTransport connection scheme, or what Intels Talwalkar referred to as "glueless MP [multiprocessing]." Intel-based PC designs use PCI Express to connect components, although Intel has not described the internal interconnects that its own dual-core chip will use. Its dual-core Itanium chip uses an in-order architecture and an intermediary scheduler block to bounce threads from one core to the other until they encounter a long latency stall that requires the chip to fetch information from the main system memory.
"Our architecture is not based on a bottleneck thats 20 years old that our competitor keeps holding on to," AMDs Williams said. "The AMD64 systems approach is … how do we optimize the core processor speed, the I/O, the memory latency, the communications functions—how do we make an optimized design." Williams didnt rule out following Intel in another area, however. Intel chose to implement Hyper-Threading, 64-bit functionality, then a dual-core strategy; AMDs approach has been to design for 64-bit, then dual cores, leaving Hyper-Threading a possible addition for the future. Bill Leszinske, director of digital home marketing at Intel, told reporters Wednesday that he did not know if Intel would phase out Hyper-Threading after the dual-core strategy was implemented. For now, it appears that Intels dual cores could have both. "Hyper-Threading is a technique; theres no reason you couldnt build a dual-core product supporting four threads," Leszinske said. However, Windows XP only supports two processors, whether they are virtual or in silicon. "That is also a knob that one could turn," Williams said of Hyper-Threading, noting that the initial addition of Hyper-Threading to Intels processors actually degraded performance. AMD has yet to present the "right approach to multithreaded optimization," he said. "Never say never," Williams added. "[But] its not something that one could say right now." Check out eWEEK.coms Infrastructure Center at for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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