Print 31 comment(s) - last by William Gaatje.. on Nov 14 at 10:20 AM

Shanghai is set to erase "Barcelona" memories

The once gleaming AMD name was tarnished in many minds when the company launched its Barcelona CPUs. Barcelona was plagued from the start with poor performance and poor availability leading many to jump the AMD fence for the greener pastures offered by Intel.

AMD announced today that its Shanghai quad-core Opteron processors are now available. The new Shanghai platform is optimized for virtualization, live migration capability, and promises up to a 40% improvement in virtualization performance.

In addition to improved virtualization performance, AMD also says that the new 45nm Shanghai parts will deliver up to 35% more performance and up to a 35% decrease in power consumption at idle.

AMD senior vice president for Computing Solutions Group Randy Allen said in a statement, "Flawless execution in bringing the 45nm Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor to market early results in new performance leadership on x86 servers. In concert with our OEM and solution provider partners, AMD is addressing the need for enterprises to focus on their bottom line while giving them the innovations they need to build for the future.

“This enhanced AMD Opteron processor represents the most dramatic performance and performance-per-watt increases for AMD products since the introduction of the world’s first x86 dual-core processors by AMD nearly four years ago. Simply put, the Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor is the right technology at the right time.”

It's important to note that Shanghai isn’t a completely new architecture and is more a refresh of Barcelona, which was a 65nm CPU. Processors available today include 75-watt Shanghai parts running at clock speeds from 2.3GHz to 2.7GHz. All of the CPUs have a much larger 6MB L3 cache to support memory-intensive applications like Java and virtualization.

The chips support DDR2-800 memory, which AMD says is more energy efficient than fully buffered RAM. AMD also has enhancements to the AMD Direct Connect Architecture with coherent HyperTransport 3.0 technology in the pipeline for Q2 2009. The update will provide up to 17.6GB/s of bandwidth for processor-to-processor communications.

The new Shanghai parts that AMD launched today are not the last coming in the line. In Q1 2009 AMD will launch a 55-watt Opteron and a SE 105-watt part. Many sever makers will be offering servers using the new 75-watt Opteron parts starting today, one of which is HP.

HP's Paul Gottsegen, VP of marketing for Industry Standard Servers said in a statement, "Customers can drive down costs through new Shanghai-based HP ProLiant servers that set new levels of power efficiency and performance. HP has experienced unparalleled success over the past four years working with AMD in bringing AMD Opteron processor-based platforms to customers of all sizes. Early results indicate Shanghai is a winner."

CNET News reports that AMD also has a new desktop platform codenamed Dragon on the roadmap for Q1 2009. Dragon will use 45nm Shanghai desktop CPUs in conjunction with AMD 700 Series chipsets and ATI Radeon HD 4000 graphics. Whether or not the Shanghai-based Dragon platform can compete with Intel's new Core i7 X58 chipset duo remains to be seen, it's good to see AMD trying to mount a comeback. AMD is working hard to prevent another plagued launch like it executed for Barcelona.

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By Motoman on 11/13/2008 11:53:57 AM , Rating: 2
As a self-identified AMD fan, I still have to wonder about the pure performance benefit vs. Intel. Performance per watt is great, and especially applicable in the data center...but what kind of trickle-down benefit is this going to give them to desktop (and maybe laptop) parts?

The average home user, or enthusaist, is not likely all that interested in PPW. The enthusiast crowd is definitely interested just in top-line performance numbers...and even if Shanghai gives a 15% clock-for-clock boost to performance over Barcelona, is it going to be enough to re-ignite the AMD enthusiast fanbase?

RE: Hmmm...
By lifeblood on 11/13/2008 2:27:15 PM , Rating: 2
As a (former) data center manager I cared very much about PPW. I had a lot of servers I had to power, cool, and have battery backups for. These things are not cheap and the current emphasis on PPW buy AMD & Intel is much appreciated.

As a PC gamer at home, I couldn't care less about PPW. I don't run my PC that much so the cost difference on my electricity bill is negligible. I want performance. I want those 1-2 extra frames per second.

Hopefully the next desktop chip from AMD will get the core clock speed up. I'm sure AMD's Phenom could have been more of a competitor if they could have increased its speed. To say the megahertz/gigahertz war is over is unrealistic. I would argue it's back again (at least on the desktop). Beyond 2-3 cores you see very little performance improvement with today's games. Performance increases will have to come from clock increases and architectural improvements.

RE: Hmmm...
By William Gaatjes on 11/13/2008 7:09:21 PM , Rating: 2
I want performance. I want those 1-2 extra frames per second.

Oh yes, 101,102 fps verus 100 really makes a difference.

RE: Hmmm...
By Motoman on 11/13/2008 7:16:18 PM , Rating: 2
...unless you're trying to play Crysis, and the difference between 29 and 31 FPS is "not gonna play it" to "I guess I can live with it."

RE: Hmmm...
By Regs on 11/13/08, Rating: 0
RE: Hmmm...
By William Gaatjes on 11/14/2008 10:20:25 AM , Rating: 2
Unless there is a contest where every advantage with respect to the opponent counts, these comparisions are useless in the pc world. For example 100 meter sprint, those hundredth of a second make a difference but for gaming 1 fps more on a hundred, i doubt it. And if the fps limit's you, buy a better gfx card. If i remember correctly , crysis benefit's purely from 1 thread speed ups. That says something about crysis when compared to the unreal engine or source engine when thinking of multithreading. And i think we have to find the advancements from Intel also in a good compiler optimised to hide the bottlenecks found in Intel cpu's. When AMD delivers an AMD cpu optimised compiler, we will find similair speedup differences with AMD as winner.

But overal, I always preferred AMD because of the IMC and hypertransport in combination with a fast cpu and a good price, maybe that will change with nehalem but i doubt it when thinking of the plans Intel has for desktop nehalem cpu's. I admire Intel tho, for their advanced physics and cpu manufacturing knowledge.

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