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AMD "Barcelona" die shot. (Source: AMD)
AMD bets on low-power, low-clock processors for its next generation debut

AMD announced today what analysts have been dreading for months: the company will launch its next-generation architecture this August, at top-out frequencies of 2.0 GHz.  This next-generation CPU will become the successor of the existing K8 AMD Opteron lineup.

AMD's press release claims, "With planned availability at launch in a range of frequencies up to 2.0 Ghz, AMD expects its native quad-core processors to scale to higher frequencies in Q407 in both standard and SE (Special Edition) versions."

AMD Barcelona roadmaps from February 2007 indicated the company would launch at a top-out frequency of 2.3 GHz, with an eventual ramp to 2.6 GHz on the way. 

Just this past June the company also announced it could demonstrate Barcelona on working systems immediately.  The part the company left out from its announcement was that the demonstration CPUs ran at 1.6 GHz -- still 400 MHz under the estimated launch speed and 700 MHz under the roadmapped top-out frequency.

To add insult to injury, when DailyTech benchmarked the pre-production 1.6 GHz Barcelona, the CPU did not match Intel's 65nm quad-core offering clock-for-clock.  AMD engineers stress to DailyTech that this benchmark was premature, and that final silicon and software will allow for SSE optimizations and better performance. 

AMD's press release claims the Barcelona Opteron will provide a 70% performance increase in certain database applications; and a 40% increase on certain floating point applications.  The company has maintained this conclusion for nearly six months, though the only benchmarks it has provided to back its case up are simulated SPECint and SPECfp benchmarks released in April 2007.

The 2.0 GHz K10 Opteron announcement comes with another twist; the company will launch its energy-efficient models alongside its performance models at launch.  Originally, these low-power Barcelona derivatives were scheduled for a late 2007, possibly early 2008 launch. 

“AMD has prioritized production of our low power and standard power products because our customers and ecosystem demand it, and we firmly believe that the introduction of our native Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor will deliver on the promise of the highest levels of performance-per-watt the industry has ever seen,” added Randy Allen, corporate vice president of AMD's Server and Workstation division.

The upcoming Barcelona processors are drop-in compatible with current-generation Opteron motherboards.




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