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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: What exactly is Tape Out
By Master Kenobi on 8/15/2006 1:20:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yea basically a pre-production blueprint that they can create a litho-print or whatever you wanna call it so they can actually create a chip with it. Still close to a year away from production since they need to finish retooling a few manufacturing lines (I believe this chip is supposed to be 65nm). Then do a few sample runs to test yields and make any tweaks to the process to improve yields or go as is and improve later. I'd say probably late Q1'07 or Early Q2'07. Maybe an April/May release window.

Intel's roadmap is more logical than anything else. They will throw 2 Conroe cores on a die and call it their first Quad core, then 6 months later they are supposed to roll out a "Native Quad Core" and subsequently shrink it down to 45nm. So from Intel Look for 45nm by Q2'07 pending something doesnt hold them up, and I doubt anything would. The only thing they seem to do consistently right and on schedule is process improvements and die shrinks. They have almost completed retooling a few lines for 45nm and are in the process of tooling a few over to 32nm for Q1'08.

Should be interesting.

By mendocinosummit on 8/15/2006 1:37:08 PM , Rating: 2
Intel did the same thing with the first Pentium D's and look what happened. AMD does not have the means to slap two dual cores togehter and then six months later create a native quad. It worked for them with the X2's. Are these going to be called the X4's

RE: What exactly is Tape Out
By psychobriggsy on 8/15/2006 1:46:41 PM , Rating: 2
Intel have already stated that 45nm will not be operational until Q1 2008, presumably for production manufacturing. That's only 2 and a bit years since the start of 65nm however, still a good rate of progress.

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