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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: you know...
By omnicronx on 4/23/2009 1:44:21 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Always coming from the people who know nothing about it and talk like they are some know-it-all genius, yet they have no answers themselves.
No, Whats funny are the people saying more cores the better without backing up their statements.

With current CPU's DDR3 can't handle 12 cores, DDR4 won't handle 12 cores, the bandwidth just is not there. So unless we have on die memory controllers for every single core, and fast enough memory to handle it, 8+ cores will be useless in the desktop environment for some time to come. Furthermore Intel has just made the venture to on die memory controllers (shared between cores), and AMD does not really have the capital right now to raise the price of their chips substantially.

This is not the old argument of 'Hardly any programs are multithreded, thus multicore is not needed', this is actually a hardware issue.


RE: you know...
By TomZ on 4/23/2009 1:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
Somehow I think the architects of these chips will already be aware of these types of issues.


RE: you know...
By omnicronx on 4/23/2009 2:07:36 PM , Rating: 2
Then why are there no desktop variants on the horizon?

In the past when either AMD or Intel released a server chip, a desktop variant was already on their roadmap.

This is just not the case this time around.


RE: you know...
By TomZ on 4/23/2009 2:33:51 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Then why are there no desktop variants on the horizon?
Because 99% of desktop computer users have no use for so many cores, so therefore no market exists yet for that on the desktop. No market means no product.

Anyway, if a memory or related bottleneck exists, then it will show up in server applications right away.


RE: you know...
By tmouse on 4/23/2009 2:06:42 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, another issue is businesses do not keep upgrading every time something new comes out, so this will be far less effective than the megahertz wars. Growth requiring additional server capacity is FAR slower than desktop turnover (which can be driven by bloated software). In the current economy, which I doubt will get much better in at least the next 5 years, most companies will not be doing major hardware purchases. Lower costs and more energy efficiencies (to save dollars) will be a far greater selling point than who has the most cores. I do not know if AMD could survive the wait for that kind of war to pay off.


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