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AMD delivers its first box of Interlagos chips to Cray, the supercomputer maker.  (Source: AMD)
Company, however is reportedly struggling with clock speeds for quad-, octa-core Bulldozers

Yesterday what appeared on the surface to be good news for Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) landed.  The company announced [press release] that it was shipping the world's first 16-core server CPUs to retailers and OEMs, with product expected to hit end users sometime in October.

I. Can You Handle 16 Cores of Power?

The new chips use a new 32 nm core design dubbed Bulldozer, which AMD hopes will do the trick in remedying slumping server-side revenue
.  While Interlagos technically is a 16-core CPU, the term is a bit confusing as it lacks certain elements you would expect in a full 16-core implementation.

The chip is built on Bulldozer modules, which contain a pair of processing cores.  However, the module only has a single floating point processing unit (FPU) and fetch/decode/execute unit to share between the two processing cores.  

This is a bit different from Intel Corp. (
INTC), who incorporates a full FPU and fetch/decode/execute unit with every core.  The net result is that performance may not be quite as high as you would expect out of a 16-core chip.

Each chip comes with a quad-channel memory controller.

The new cores will be branded the FX-6200 series.  AMD still hasn't updated their product page to include information on this new lineup, but we expect them to do so shortly.  The new cores are pin-compatible with AMD's Socket G34 (Magny-Cours/Opteron 6100) motherboards.

Information on pricing and clock speeds is still not generally available, nor are comprehensive third-party benchmarks.  However, one can expect a slightly lower clock speed due to the high core count, which would mean strong performance in highly multithreaded apps, but less spectacular performance in primarily serial apps.  Given the target, though -- business users -- this should be an acceptable compromise as most heavy corporate server loading is multi-threaded these days.  

AMD says that Interlagos will be compatible with dual- and quad-socket server motherboards, indicating that you may be able to pack up to 64 cores onto a single board.  If that's not enough, AMD's 2012 Terramar platform will include up to 20 cores per die.

Interlagos is expected to see strong pickup among supercomputer makers due to the high core-density per motherboard.  Cray, Inc. (CRAY), a top supercomputer maker, was the first company to receive a shipment of the new chips.

II. Zambezi, Wither Art Thou?

While Interlagos is nearing the market, AMD has grown decidedly quiet about Zambezi, the four, six, and eight core desktop processors that work supposed to launch in Q3 2011.  One problem may be clock speeds. 

Given the core count AMD may be able to get away with a lower clocked Interlagos offering, but it will face substantial criticism on the desktop end, if it fails to deliver its promised relatively high clock speeds, which were supposed to be 3.6 GHz (normal), 4.2 GHz (turbo) for the FX-8150 octacore chip.

At this point it’s all rumors, but the critical thing is that Zambezi is nowhere to be found even as
Intel's Ivy Bridge platform -- its first to feature its new power-saving 3D transistor design -- races towards a 2012 launch.

III. New Fusion Chips Land

While AMD may be struggling on the high end of the PC market, it's certainly taken the low end by storm
 with its Fusion CPU+GPU chips.  Alongside the announcement of Interlagos availability, AMD quietly announced the availability of new Fusion Llano series advanced processing unit (APU) designs.

The first chip, the A4-3300 is priced at a sweet $70, includes dual 32 nm Stars (Phenom II architecture) cores clocked at 2.5 GHz and with 2 MB of L2 cache and a 160 unified shader GPU.  The chip draws 65 watts.

The second chip, the A4-3400 comes with an identical GPU, but bumps the clock speed to 2.7 GHz, and the price to $75.  Both chips fully support DDR3 1600 memory.

Given the price, you may see these chips ending up in designs priced as low as $200-$300.  At that price they should experience market traction.  Thus AMD continues to dominate the low to mid-market, while failing to deliver competitive high-end CPU product, on the PC side at least.

While AMD has stated that it intended Llano primarily as a budget desktop chip, the chips are
currently available from Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) exclusively in OEM laptop builds.  Discrete offerings for do-it-yourself desktop builds should be available shortly.



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16 core
By silverblue on 9/8/2011 11:35:16 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
The new chips use a new 32 nm core design dubbed Bulldozer, which AMD hopes will do the trick in remedying slumping server-side revenue. While Interlagos technically is a 16-core CPU, the term is a bit confusing as it lacks certain elements you would expect in a full 16-core implementation. The chip is built on Bulldozer modules, which contain a pair of processing cores. However, the module only has a single floating point processing unit (FPU) and fetch/decode/execute unit to share between the two processing cores. This is a bit different from Intel Corp. (INTC), who incorporates a full FPU and fetch/decode/execute unit with every core. The net result is that performance may not be quite as high as you would expect out of a 16-core chip.


Not quite, but AMD's marketing department hasn't helped matters here.

The FPU is an interesting point. You've pointed out that it's shared on a module level, but it's worth going into this a little deeper. I've copied the following from http://lunatics.kwsn.net/1-discussion-forum/avx-op... :

Intel Sandy Bridge: 1 x 128 bit (SSE) or 1 x 256 bit (AVX) per clock cycle
AMD Bulldozer: 2 x 128 bit (SSE) or 1 x 256 bit (AVX) per clock cycle

128-bit SSE instructions are far more of a big deal right now and AMD has addressed that, whilst still providing AVX support along with FMA etc. A Sandy Bridge FPU can "only" output 1x128 OR 1x256 per clock cycle; the Flex FPU design in Bulldozer caters for two, so even with "only" four FPUs in BD vs. 8 in SB, theoretically there'd be very little performance difference. Granted, we know nothing more about the implementation such as how fast these FPUs work at, and that's what benchmarks are going to show us.

AMD did admit that their approach to FPU was like SMT, whereas the integer cores were duplicated and thus termed CMT. Intel doesn't have a 16-core chip out there for us to judge what might be 16-core performance; 8C/16T doesn't count in principle.

FPU performance isn't going to be a big issue for servers and the lack of AVX horsepower might be a non-issue at this moment in time.




RE: 16 core
By dgingeri on 9/8/2011 12:37:56 PM , Rating: 2
This is especially true with the new developments in software development: GPGPU. With GPGPU handling much of the paralleled FP calculations, the main processor won't need the FP horsepower they have today. With the CPU handling the main I/O and movement of data between memory and the GPGPU while the GPGPU handles the mainly parallel FP calculations, this thing would rock, especially when paired with AMD's video cards, which do better at 64-bit GPGPU calculations than Nvidia's cards.

They're thinking ahead, not lagging behind here. The software developers just need to start using the massive hardware resources they have available now. I don't mean just gaming, either. This counts for a great many things.


RE: 16 core
By Argon18 on 9/8/2011 9:47:34 PM , Rating: 2
Your assessment that CPU's today don't need the FP performance because GPU's can perform that role is not entirely correct. GPU's can perform a very small set of floating point instructions, and perform them very fast. But that's only great if your specific FP task happens to use one of those instructions. Just ask the Folding@Home folks. There are quite a few floating point tasks that simply cannot be performed on any of the GPU's available today. It will be many many years, if ever, before a CPU's FP logic becomes no longer relevant.


RE: 16 core
By EricMartello on 9/9/2011 12:54:23 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
FPU performance isn't going to be a big issue for servers and the lack of AVX horsepower might be a non-issue at this moment in time.


Not as much of an issue as FPU performance is for gaming and media programs, but FPU performance does play a role in encryption...expect lower throughput with encrypted data when the FPUs are lacking, an effect that would quickly magnify with many simultaneous users accessing the server at once (and you would expect that a 16-core server is going to be handling many simultaneous users).


By Beenthere on 9/8/2011 10:27:52 AM , Rating: 2
This is good news for all except Intel. There will be a lot of happy AMD campers over the new few years with the many iterations of Bulldozer in the piepline.




By Calin on 9/8/2011 2:58:14 PM , Rating: 2
Even if Intel might not have the best processors, they are able to produce enough of them. Even when AMD was the king of the hill and its processors soundly beat Intel, they were limited by their manufacturing capacity. Let's face it, Intel is able to produce more than 80% of all the x86 processors sold, but AMD isn't capable of much more than maybe 25%.
If they manage to produce the best processor there is, they will remain at the same total market share but will sell processors with a higher average selling price.


By Belard on 9/13/2011 6:47:42 PM , Rating: 2
And AMD sells 20~25% of the CPUs with NO / NONE / ZERO marketing!


Going to be a rubbish overclocker
By Dribble on 9/8/2011 10:10:58 AM , Rating: 2
"BEWARE OF LOW HEADROOM"

You have been warned :)




By kittypuncher on 9/8/2011 10:13:56 AM , Rating: 2
LOL
I know photos can drastically distort proportions, but from this perspective, 'how short are those guys in coats?!' They look like they're far from hitting their head there.
Gotta love Health n Safety/Osha. :)


/just testing
By Clauzii on 9/13/2011 7:00:52 PM , Rating: 2
/it works..




A day late, but..
By nocturne_81 on 9/8/11, Rating: 0
Exaggeration!
By BSMonitor on 9/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: Exaggeration!
By BSMonitor on 9/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: Exaggeration!
By SSDMaster on 9/8/2011 9:39:35 AM , Rating: 5
What? Have you heard of Fusion? Been living under a rock? You should know by now Fusion is kicking butt. I'm all for criticizing J.M. but this is just common knowledge by now.


RE: Exaggeration!
By ilt24 on 9/8/2011 9:55:18 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
You should know by now Fusion is kicking butt


The problem is, when it comes to sales, the butt being kicked has mostly been that of AMD's prior generation processors.


RE: Exaggeration!
By SSDMaster on 9/8/2011 10:00:25 AM , Rating: 1
You mean the ones that didn't run integrated graphics? Or the ones that beat intel's atom/mobo graphics from the beginning?


RE: Exaggeration!
By B3an on 9/8/2011 1:20:19 PM , Rating: 1
Intel have a way larger market share even in the low end so i dont see how it's "kicking butt". At most AMD has gained a few percent. I want AMD to do well but theres too many immature AMD fanboys on here.


RE: Exaggeration!
By JumpingJack on 9/9/2011 1:14:28 AM , Rating: 2
Amen!


RE: Exaggeration!
By nocturne_81 on 9/8/2011 10:03:04 AM , Rating: 1
This ranges on the extreme low-end of this author's fealties...

It's pretty much common knowledge... there are indeed no current bleeding edge offerings at all, but AMD has indeed taken the lower end of the market by storm.

But to put it in perspective -- low power = 90%+ of the market; high power = 10%- of the market. You have to keep in mind that a typical consumer needs no more power than a computer offered 4-5 years ago, so the only incentive to make a new purchase for them is to buy a more efficient product -- unless they like flashing lights and dials; or prefer the smoke and mirrors of a competing Apple product (which exclusively use's Intel chips... though AMD's APUs could certainly help them design some interesting lower end products).


Cant Wait
By BSMonitor on 9/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: Cant Wait
By SSDMaster on 9/8/2011 9:44:04 AM , Rating: 5
Maybe playing Crysis but branch out into the corporate world and who knows maybe there's other things out there to run besides games? Maybe there's these things called servers that run heavily virtualized environments. Maybe they have size, heat, and power restrictions. Maybe there's more benchmarks to consider than how fast winrar can unzip a file or how many 100's of FPS it can run Oblivion?

Who knows..


RE: Cant Wait
By kittypuncher on 9/8/2011 10:10:43 AM , Rating: 3
Kind of to BSMonitors point though, I would be very interested to see how these not-quite-16-core chips held up against Intel counterparts in mid/large VDI/Server virtualization implementations. Something tells me, especially in VDI, these not quite 16-core chips will surpass mid-stream 6/8-core Intel CPUs. But at the high end? I'm thinking AMD may have missed the mark.

Not proclaiming success or failure one way or another, just stating that I'm very interested to see a comparison benchmark/white paper to be published.


RE: Cant Wait
By nocturne_81 on 9/8/2011 10:14:56 AM , Rating: 2
Are you serious..? Did you ever think for a moment this was considered a consumer product?

This type of processor is destined to only be found in supercomputers (like the cray the first production chips are destined for), or virtualized environments requiring a high level of parallel processing with a low TDP.

This is no different than when a high powered previous generation single core chip could still beat the next gen dual core in synthetic benches; or when the last gen dual core could 'technically' beat the next gen quad core..

And I have yet to see any synthetic benchmark, let alone game, make any real effort to examine and properly take advantage of any multi-core cpu...


RE: Cant Wait
By dotpoz on 9/8/2011 12:51:50 PM , Rating: 2
The future is multi core power efficient cpu for cloud server and ultra efficet mobile cpu with integrated graphics for mobile device.
You will play crysis from the cloud on your tablet or on your tv/set-top box

AMD is on the right path but intel is one generation forward with production process.

And arm architecture is more power efficient than x86


RE: Cant Wait
By MrTeal on 9/8/2011 2:05:31 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
The future is multi core power efficient cpu for cloud server and ultra efficet mobile cpu with integrated graphics for mobile device. You will play crysis from the cloud on your tablet or on your tv/set-top box


I weep for the future of gaming.


RE: Cant Wait
By SSDMaster on 9/8/2011 4:59:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yea I don't think dotpoz understands how Latency works. Unless "in the future" we have 1ns ping times.

And yes that's a nano second response time; I won't stand for milli's.


RE: Cant Wait
By MrTeal on 9/8/2011 5:37:38 PM , Rating: 2
If you can get a 1ns ping from one device to another, you need to remember us here on the DT forums when you're rolling in cash, you violator of the SOL you. ;)


RE: Cant Wait
By nocturne_81 on 9/8/2011 7:20:32 PM , Rating: 2
But I thought SkyNet doesn't launch until 2016..? x]

Interestingly, all the talk of 'cloud computing' didn't really amp up until Apple released iCloud, whereas previously the idea was mostly regarded in jest. I imagine millions of Apple users started Googling what a 'cloud' was, read some theoretical articles, and now are going around touting it as 'the future'.

In the case of consumers, exactly how many people do you think are willing to give up control of their own hardware, software, and files in exchange for 'living in the cloud'..? I sure as hell never will...

Of course, this isn't the case in a corporate atmosphere.. but then again, they've been doing this since the invention of the computer. Ever hear of a terminal..?

And the lauding of the new 'mobile age'..? The tablet bubble will pop eventually, as it did with pda's, and consumers will return to the pc/phone combo except in extremely niche markets.

But then again, I guess I may be a bit of a luddite... I personally see no use for my phone besides making and receiving calls and texts; with a small exception being quick info look-ups and running a telnet app to log into my servers via ssh to manage my game servers on the go... I'm just not one of those self-important ---holes that fiddle around with their phones constantly, trying to attract attention so people can notice how 'hip' and 'in touch' they are. If I'm waiting for a bus at at a doctor's office, I don't pull out my phone -- I actually try to talk to the fellow humans around me. Hell, more often than not, I leave my phone at home or in the car -- if I am busy, I don't need to be distracted or bothered!


RE: Cant Wait
By Tunnah on 9/9/2011 8:44:57 AM , Rating: 2
this reminds me of those cartoons they used to show where it was the world of tomorrow - "in 1980 we'll all be living on the moon eating nothing but pills that offer a full range of nutrients!"


"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke














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