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A wounded AMD looks to release its first 12 core processor in Q1 2010

Many fondly recall the megahertz race -- the 90s phenomena in which Advanced Micro Devices and Intel raced to have the highest-clocked processor.  Over time, designers realized such a blind race was foolish, and that it was conceding far too much in efficiency and heat.  Now a similar race is heating up over the number of cores in a desktop processor, but only time will tell whether the race is the path of good design, or another blind charge.

Intel already has a four-core 45 nm desktop processor (Nehalem/i7) and a six-core server processor (Xeon) on the market.  It plans to roll out an eight-core server processor (Xeon) in Q4 2009. 

However, it may fall behind in the core race (though still presumably ahead in die-shrinks) if AMD is able to deliver on its planned release schedule.  AMD plans to release its six-core 45 nm processor, codenamed Istanbul in June.  The chip, like Intel's 6-core beast, is geared for the server market. 

But that's far from AMD's biggest news.  AMD has announced plans to beat Intel to 12 cores, releasing both 8 and 12 core processors, codenamed Magny-Cours, in Q1 2010.  It has also announced that it will in 2011 roll out its 32 nm Bulldozer core, which will feature up to 16 cores, running on the new Sandtiger architecture.  In short -- AMD plans to beat Intel in the core race.

Patrick Patla, an AMD vice president and general manager of its server unit states, "We are not ducking performance.  We want to do top-line performance with bottom-line efficiency."

Intel, meanwhile, remains confident that it can deliver equivalent performance with fewer cores via Hyper Threading.  Like NVIDIA, Intel is pursuing a slightly more monolithic design with fewer, but stronger processor cores.  Intel spokesman Nick Knupffer states, "We are confident we will stay far ahead on performance--and with fewer cores--do so in a more cost-effective, manufacturing-friendly manner.  This will be the first time in history where less is more."

Even if AMD can beat Intel in performance, it will still be in dire financial straits until it can translate that performance into sales.  AMD took another big loss in its recently reported fiscal quarter, just the latest in several years mostly in the red. 

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RE: Just as pointless as the mhz war
By parge on 4/23/2009 10:16:23 AM , Rating: 2
Most developers aren't even optimizing games for 4 cores, let alone 16, and I can't see that changing in a year. Adding another 12 cores that do nothing doesn't seem to be the way to go unless they are going to work hand in hand with developers to really start using them more efficiently.

By Exedore on 4/23/2009 10:25:22 AM , Rating: 2
These are targeted at the server platform, not for home users and games. Servers can very well use that many cores, and packing that many cores on a single motherboard can save a lot of space.

RE: Just as pointless as the mhz war
By fishbits on 4/23/2009 10:40:42 AM , Rating: 5
There are more uses for a PC than gaming. I'm a gamer and welcome any advances on that front, but there's far more to computing than the next verson of Quake.

Besides, what do you think will drive the optimization of multi-core gaming if not the increase in typically available cores on customer's systems? It's like you're saying there should be no advances in gaming graphics because many games don't currently require top-of-the-line video cards in SLI before they will launch.

Instead, the more penetration increasingly powerful hardware has in homes, the more incentive there is for developers to code for it. But, the good news is that you're able to sit these hardware advances out if you're not interested.

RE: Just as pointless as the mhz war
By parge on 4/23/2009 11:09:00 AM , Rating: 2
I understand, and I'm not against progress, but what I am saying is that for a majority of users 2 or 4 cores is more than enough, and games are probably the most common thing people use that really pushes the hardware. Not many people are doing video encoding on everyday basis, compared to those playing video games. Remember the second part of my post, that if they are going to do this, they need to work hard with developers to make sure they can code the games to take advantage of it. As much flak as Nvidia take for Physx implementation in games, you can't fault their efforts to work with developers to optimize for their drivers and CUDA to make it happen. It just seems dissappointing that we have had Quad core processers for so long and Anandtech are still recommending Dual Cores for mainstream gaming rigs simply because bang for buck, your not going to get much extra for your extra 2 cores.

Like you say though, if these CPUs are server orientated then fair enough, but I would still like to make the above point.

RE: Just as pointless as the mhz war
By TSS on 4/23/2009 11:01:26 AM , Rating: 2
my friend still plays wow on a athlon 3500+ and a ati 9700 card. and wow is played by millions, most of which probably won't have that much different specs. also that same arguement has been put forth since the athlon x2.

i really don't think games are the driving force behind this. so they'll just have to play catch up, sooner or later. and they will, or the market dies.

the way the gaming market is now it'll probably be later. lets just hope for the best.

By gamerk2 on 4/23/2009 11:56:54 AM , Rating: 2
The problem the Devs made was that they coded assuming a maximum of two cores. Now that its clear that multicore is the way of the future, engines will be devolped that scale according to the number of CPU processing cores.

Such programs have existed for servers for ages, that scale with upwards of 80% efficency. PC's will catch up withint the next 2-4 years.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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