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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 TomZ on 4/23/2009 10:39:53 AM , Rating: 3
I don't see a practical application of that many cores in desktop environments RIGHT NOW.
These processors will target server applications, where they will find synergy with trends in that market towards virtualization and energy (operating cost) reduction.

I agree with you - usage on the desktop will only find use with pretty specialized applications for the first few years probably.

RE: Just as pointless as the mhz war
By MrPeabody on 4/23/2009 11:07:12 AM , Rating: 5
These processors will target server applications, where they will find synergy with trends in that market towards virtualization and energy (operating cost) reduction.

Gaah! The buzzwords! I see your point, but I just can't take the buzzwords!

RE: Just as pointless as the mhz war
By TomZ on 4/23/2009 11:13:00 AM , Rating: 3
Possible future career in marketing?

By Silver2k7 on 4/24/2009 10:57:22 AM , Rating: 2
DirectX 11 will bring on better multi core support for gaming.. eventually the 6 and 8 core designs will trickle down to desktops.

By DeepBlue1975 on 4/23/2009 4:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
Of course these are server parts, but I think it's not gonna take so much longer till 6 or 8 cores come to desktop once those 12 core monsters are introduced to the server market.

Neural net on a chip... Sounds really exciting as a possible future. CPUs would have to start being called e-brains instead :D

RE: Just as pointless as the mhz war
By croc on 4/23/2009 7:26:23 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure how you are defining 'synergy'. What makes multi-core CPU's beneficial in the server space is reduced overhead. This comes in several flavours, one being reduced costs in energy, one being reduced footprint, and last but not least, reduced costs in licensing. A per-core Oracle license is not cheap. But Oracle gives a discount on CPU's with multiple cores per socket. VMWare used to license by the socket, but I am sure that has changed. Citrix also licenses per application-seat, how you set up your servers is up to you.

So if you add up all of the cost savings, it's huge to a company's OPEX accounting.

By atlmann10 on 4/24/2009 4:07:50 PM , Rating: 1
The thing that is holding the computer market back performance wise now is not the hardware. Which is way way ahead of the software. If say Microsoft coded Windows to use a specific core for say all background ops, and one for all OS graphic ops etc. Then They programmed office to use different CPU cores for different things and game programmers, network apps, net browsing apps and everything else was coded to make use of CPU's in such a manner as well. You could run windows singularly speaking on a 1/4 (or however many cores you had) of the CPU ability. This would enable a 4 core 1ghz to outrun a 4ghz CPU today at 1/4 of the energy usage and heat production, thereby needing less energy to cool it as well. We would also gain 4 times the CPU capabilities on a 4 core processor right.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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