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The first native x86 quad-core processor is finally taped out

With the news of AMD's DDR2 Opteron launch, AMD managed to squeeze in one tidbit of information definitely newsworthy: quad-core Opterons have been taped out. AMD's Executive Vice President Henri Richard had previously dubbed these native quad-core design as the K8L architecture.  Internally at AMD, this architecture is known as Greyhound.

The company's press release claims "AMD plans to deliver to customers in mid-2007 native Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors that incorporate four processor cores on a single die of silicon." For a little historical perspective, AMD's dual-core Opteron was taped out in June 2004, and then officially introduced in late April, 2005.

The press release further adds that the quad-core Opteron will be compatible with the dual-core DDR2 Opteron motherboards.  The news of backwards compatibility with existing DDR2 Opteron motherboards is in line with AMD's previous announcements on its other platforms.  On roadmaps earlier this year the company also claimed that AM3 processors would be compatible with AM2 motherboards.

Intel has recently accelerated its quad-core plans; the company recently announced that quad-core desktop and server chips will be available this year.  Intel's initial quad-core designs are significantly different than AMD's approach.  The quad-core Intel Kentsfield processor is essentially two Conroe dice attached to the same package.  AMD's native quad-core, on the other hand, incorporates all four cores onto the same die.  AMD countered Intel's accelerated roadmap by claiming the new quad-core processors would be demonstrated this year.

However, absent from AMD's quad-core announcement is any news of non-native quad-core processors.  Non-native quad-core Opterons, previously dubbed Deerhound, existed on AMD's roadmap as late as May of this year.  These 65nm processors were essentially two 65nm dual-core Opterons on the same package, but AMD has made virtually no comment on any 65nm dual or single-core processors since the AMD Analyst Day on June 1 of this year.  AMD still plans to introduce 65nm dual-core processors for desktops this year.


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K8L?
By The Boston Dangler on 8/15/2006 8:34:15 AM , Rating: 2
Does this mean the chip is another evolution of the A64? Not that I find anything wrong with that, but it does exclude any next-generation advancements like what Intel has cranked out (i.e. I have no reason to dump my Opteron 165 system for AM2). I'd like to see AMD get busy with virtualization and some others, but leave out the Trusted Computing thx.




RE: K8L?
By Viditor on 8/15/2006 10:39:10 AM , Rating: 1
The Press Releases I've read from AMD call it their "Next-Generation" core, which means K8L...looks like the predictions that HKPC made were off by at least 6 months (IIRC, they said the quad core K8L wasn't due until 2008).


RE: K8L?
By coldpower27 on 8/16/2006 12:59:58 AM , Rating: 2
Well form what I remember HKEPC had roadmaps of server Quad Cores for Mid 2007. The K8L Quad Cores for desktop are the ones that are apparently not due till 2008.


RE: K8L?
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 8/19/2006 10:31:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Well form what I remember HKEPC had roadmaps of server Quad Cores for Mid 2007. The K8L Quad Cores for desktop are the ones that are apparently not due till 2008.

There were plans to have non-K8L 65nm Revision G quad-cores by mid 2007 as of May 2006 (think two Brisbane chips on a single package), but it seems like the company will just go with Rev H (K8L, native quad-core) instead. I'm not sure why the change, but AMD partner roadmaps don't go five quarters in advance like Intel so it's a little hard to track them.


RE: K8L?
By mamisano on 8/15/2006 10:50:36 AM , Rating: 2
A64 has not really changed too much over the years. Different revisions have added some enhancements but the core itself has not changed too much since its inception.

Now, the K8L is still based on A64, but supposedly with MANY additional features.
0. Native quad core
1. Hypertransport up to 5.2GT/s
2. Better coherency
3. Private L2, shared L3 cache that scales up.
4. Separate power planes and pstates for north bridge and CPU
5. 128b FPUs - see 14,15
6. 48b virtual/physical addressing and 1GB pages
7. Support for DDR2, eventually DDR3
8. Support for FBD1 and 2 eventually
9. I/O virtualization and nested page tables
10. Memory mirroring, data poisoning, HT retry protocol support
11. 32B instead of 16B ifetch
12. Indirect branch predictors
13. OOO load execution - similar to memory disambiguation
14. 2x 128b SSE units
15. 2x 128b SSE LDs/cycle
16. Several new instructions


RE: K8L?
By Wwhat on 8/17/2006 8:00:52 PM , Rating: 2
AMD AM2 CPU's already support hardware virtualisation.


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