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AMD "Barcelona" 2.6 GHz "simulated" performance projections. (Source: AMD, Alexei Nechuyatov)

Dual-socket AMD "Barcelona" 2.3 GHz projections. (Source: AMD, Alexei Nechuyatov)

Single-socket AMD "Barcelona" 2.3 GHz projections. (Source: AMD, Alexei Nechuyatov)
In this day and age we don't even need silicon to benchmark our processors -- some of us anyway

Last April, benchmarks of AMD’s Barcelona running at 2.6 GHz made rounds across Internet tech sites. These benchmarks, according to AMD, provided a 21% performance gain over quad-core Xeon 5355 in SPECint_rate2006 and a 50% gain in performance over Xeon 5355 in SPECfp_rate2006.

This looks pretty phenomenal until you read the footnote courtesy of AMD: "Estimated performance @ 2.6GHz based on internal AMD simulations."

Much to my surprise, these benchmarks surfaced again over the last few days.  This time, however, the author did not tell you the benchmarks were simulated and at least four months old. He did not tell you that the benchmarks ran were presented to him on a PowerPoint document, and he did not tell you the numbers featured in his "review" were of a 2.6 GHz simulated chip instead of a 2.3 GHz simulated chip.

In fact, AMD publically denied the Barcelona would top out at anything over 2.0 GHz at launch when it does launch on August 27

So what's going on here?  Shoddy journalism and even the author wouldn't deny that. Any author willing to pad his byline with such omissions of fact would almost certainly have an alternate agenda brewing.

I didn't give these benchmarks much thought when I first saw them in February, and given the confirmed top-out frequency from AMD, I certainly don't give these benchmarks traction now either.  I suggest those with interests in Barcelona wait until someone tests actual DVT or Retail silicon.

The funny thing is I cannot recall the term "simulated benchmarks" in my pre-Barcelona lexicon.  Since when did benchmarking a 1.6 GHz processor give the "simulated" performance of a 2.3 and 2.6 GHz chip?  Does anyone find it odd that Googling for "simulated benchmarks" yields only 574 entries -- all from AMD, Microsoft and Sanda.  AMD holds the number one spot.

Maybe simulated benchmarks will go down with some of the other great marketing terms of the last decade: FUD, paper launches and ship dates.





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