AMD Shows Quad-Core Opteron

By David Needle (Send Email)
Posted Dec 1, 2006

A few weeks ago, Intel wrested bragging rights for performance from AMD by shipping the first x86 quad-core processor, the Xeon 5300.

Intel may be first to market, but AMD is giving a preview of what it's got.

AMD will not have a competitive offering until mid-2007, but Thursday, at an analyst event in Berkeley, Calif., the company showed it's on track.

The quad-core AMD Opteron, code-named Barcelona, was shown running a prototype multiprocessor (MP) server that featured four of the new chips for a total of 16 computing cores. Barcelona maintains AMD's push toward energy efficient design as it runs in the same thermal envelope as the current dual-core Opteron.

AMD quad-core
AMD executive Henri Richard shows AMD's "native" quad-core chip next to Intel's quad-core design which packages two dual-core processors.
Source: AMD

When it launches, AMD expects to offer 2-, 4- and 8 quad-core processor designs for servers and workstations.

Intel has a decided edge with numerous server and workstation companies already shipping Xeon 5300-based systems. Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel's server platform group, boasted that Intel will ship a million quad-core chips before AMD ships one.

But AMD said it's happy with its decision to be late to the quad-core party because it has a "truer" quad-core design. The Xeon 5300 packages two of Intel's early "Woodcrest" 5100 dual-core chips to get to quad-core.

"Our architecture is better tuned to multi-core," Kishna Weaver, an Opteron product manager, told internetnews.com. "Our competitor patched two Woodcrests together, that's one approach. Ours is native to one piece of silicon and we've made micro-architectural enhancements to each of the cores so you'll see a lot of performance improvements."

But at this point, AMD isn't releasing much in the way of performance specs. Weaver said early tests indicate database applications will see as much as a 70 percent performance improvement over the current Opteron and 40 percent better floating point.

Transactional and other multithreaded applications benefit most from multicore systems. AMD has a Web site where company officials discuss and demo its quad-core efforts.

Analyst Rob Enderle with the Enderle Group said Intel will probably maintain the highest performance crown for quad-core systems even after AMD ships, but there will be many levels of customer interest.

"We'll have to wait and see what systems are priced at, but I expect AMD to be competitive and priced aggressively at a high performance level."

This article was originally published on internetnews.

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