A few weeks ago, Intel wrested bragging rights for performance from AMD by shipping the first x86 quad-core processor, the Xeon
won’t have a competitive offering until
mid-2007, but the company showed it’s on track at an analyst event today in
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
AMD executive Henri Richard shows AMD’s “native” quad-core chip next to Intel’s quad-core design which packages two dual-core processors.
When it launches, AMD expects to offer 2, 4 and 8
quad-core processor designs for servers and workstations.
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
forty 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.”