AMD: Miles To Go Before It Sleeps

The results are flowing in from all the usual places, but the most telling story is provided by the AnandTech site, that has a very long article comparing most any aspect you would ever care to know about the current AMD Barcelona release.

While not being a complete rout of Intel’s offerings, like the 2003 release of the Athlon64 and Opteron chips, the company is far from down and out, as had been speculated by some.

The article, which takes quite a while to sift through – it is that complete, brings out several points.

  • AMD has a winner here
  • Barcelona is much more efficient than previous AMD processors
  • In some head to head tests, the Barcelona is up to 147% faster
  • In areas where Intel continues to win, AMD is closing the gap fast
  • Those thinking the chips could not reach higher clock speeds fast enough are wrong, as 2.5GHz chips are in the tester’s hands already
  • AMD will probably win on the server front again, however, desktop performance gains are substantial, but not enough to vanquish Intel completely – at this point

A few quotes from the article:

15536The newest Opteron does well, and performs like a 2.4GHz Clovertown. Note that it cannot outperform the old four socket (but more expensive) 880 Opteron as this platform has even more bandwidth available and runs at an almost 20% higher clock speed. Still, we can conclude that the improved memory subsystem does pay off in SPECjbb.

Look at what Barcelona is doing: it is outperforming a 60% higher clocked Opteron 2224 SE. That means that clock for clock, the third generation Opteron is no less than 142% faster. That is a massive improvement!

We performed the same benchmark, but with antialiasing applied. AA makes the application a bit more memory intensive. The AMD quad-core extends its lead from 3% to 5%, and a single 2GHz quad-core is now capable of even outperforming a 3.2GHz dual Opteron SE 2224.

AMD has made numerous improvements compared to the K8 core:

  • The FPU unit can be turned off when not needed
  • Clock gating is implemented much better
  • Each core can run at its own frequency (but the voltage is the highest needed by either core)
  • Power for the core and memory controller are split

So, once again, those who have figuratively bet against AMD are wrong, as the company proves itself capable of meeting most challenges, and the ones it does not meet, it apparently cares little about. Sure, it would have been nice to clobber Intel the way the ‘hammer’ series processors did before, but with each generation of production, it gets harder for either of the competitors to deliver a knockout blow.

AMD is not done yet, as these early samples were clocked at ‘start of the run’ speeds, let’s see what a few months will deliver in GHz!

Entire article on AnandTech.

[tags] AMD, Barcelona, quad core CPU, debut, SPEC, energy efficiency, server, Opteron, Intel, AnandTech[/tags]