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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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RE: So.......
By KristopherKubicki on 8/15/2006 8:43:29 AM , Rating: 2
I am fairly certain I read somewhere that Kentsfield allows the two cores to communicate directly on the chip package and not over the FSB. I will try to dig that up.

The "real" difference between a native and a non-native design is that in a native design it's a single die while a non-native design would be multiple dies. Whether or not this actually maeks a difference to performance is something else entirely.

RE: So.......
By The Boston Dangler on 8/15/2006 9:03:28 AM , Rating: 3
Shouldn't prices be lower on non-native parts? The use of 2 dice increases yields, for a small manufacturing hit.

RE: So.......
By Furen on 8/15/2006 9:45:26 AM , Rating: 2
They should but they likely won't. I'm guessing it'll just have higher profit margins for Intel.

RE: So.......
By TomZ on 8/15/2006 5:27:01 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, prices are determined based on market demand and value of the product, not just on manufacturing cost.

RE: So.......
By ElFenix on 8/16/2006 12:27:21 AM , Rating: 2
intel had a dual dice package that was tremendously expensive. it was the pentium pro. if just one die was broken (either the core or the SRAM) both had to be tossed out. that is the reason intel moved to putting processors on daughtercards with a backside cache on the daughtercard. eventually manufacturing caught up to design and both could be integrated into a single die.

of course, two dice like that might be less expensive than trying to make one massive die. intel must have thought so to begin with.

RE: So.......
By Viditor on 8/15/2006 10:36:01 AM , Rating: 2
I am fairly certain I read somewhere that Kentsfield allows the two cores to communicate directly on the chip package and not over the FSB. I will try to dig that up

Interesting...please do! I wonder what protocol they would use and how the signals will be sent/received?

RE: So.......
By KristopherKubicki on 8/19/2006 10:27:21 AM , Rating: 2
Check out ZackSaw's post a little bit above this one.

"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki
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