AMD Barcelona - some official details Page: 1
AMD Barcelona

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AMD's Barcelona Core

AMD have finally managed to give us some more information in their upcoming Barcelona quad core server CPU. Below is a brief article of the major benefits and improvements. Remember this is being launched in the server market as opposed to the desktop market.

AMD have detailed the following improvements

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AMD Technology enhancements

* Smarter Investment

For AMD's business sector clients. AMD wants to show that they are willing to back platforms with a long life cycle and give their clients excellent return on investment by making their servers perform better for longer.

* Smarter Virtualisation

AMD aims to show how the new features that it is implementing will enable a whole new world of performance in virtualisation tasks based on hardware acceleration.

* Rapid Virtualisation Indexing - bringing Nested Paging & Tagged TLB's into virtualisation and allowing virtualisation to be realised through CPU hardware, rather than through software.

* Smarter Power Efficiency

AMD has enabled several excellent power saving features in it's next-gen CPU's.

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AMD power consumption improvements

AMD also went on to say that whilst they are allowing DDR2 to go ahead in their platform, Intel are using the power-heavy FBDIMM's in their architecture, meaning more expense and a lot more power usage.

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AMD "at the socket" power output

* Independent core frequency - the ability to turn off cores individually when they are not needed.
* AMD CoolCore Technology - The ability to turn off parts of the CPU that are not needed, again to save power.
* Dual Dynamic Power Management - Individual voltage for core and memory controller allowing memory bus to run at full speed whilst one or more CPU's are turned off.

* Smarter Performance

Performance where it matters, when it matters. AMD has some ideas on this front too.

* AMD Wide Floating Point Accelerator - 128 Bit Floating-Point allowing for increased performance.
* AMD Memory Optimiser - allowing double the theoretical memory bandwidth with many improvements.

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AMD memory improvements

Typical of AMD, their memory enhancements promise to deliver some pretty special improvements, notwithstanding Independent memory channels. This is precious, especially in a server environment.

* AMD Balanced Smart Cache - keeping the dedicated L2 to keep the L1/L2 and L3 balanced between dedicated and shared.

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AMD Technology enhancements

One of the biggest messages AMD were giving out at the talk was that they are looking to support their clients on the same platform and are bringing Barcelona to Socket F (server socket). AMD highlighted the benefits of a stable roadmap with good socket lifetime.

Keeping the same envelope

AMD were keen to make sure we knew that with their Quad Cores they are keeping their processors in the same thermal envelope as their equivalent dual core cousins. If a CPU is in the 65w range, the Quad Core version will again stay in that range.

This would mean that you could theretically upgrade a whole datacenter with new CPU's and have double the amount of cores for the same energy output. Of course it was mentioned that this was something that Intel did not do with their Quad Core release and AMD highlighted that this is again about investment protection.


Something that caught my eye especially on the server side of things was the improvements AMD have made in their virtualisation. AMD claim that building on technology they already had implemented and combined with new technology, they are able to help out virtualisation on a hardware level. The next slides can put this better than I can:

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AMD virtualisation diagram

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AMD vs Intel on virtualisation

As you can see here, AMD aim to take the performance of Virtualisation to a whole new level by utilising features embedded in the CPU. AMD claim that, software permitting, they expect to see about a 40% gain in performance whilst heavily loaded. Not only do AMD think they can achieve this awesome level of performance, but when I asked, AMD said that this would mean more virtual servers able to be run off of one physical box.

Pretty impressive stuff. AMD have said that they are working with the software industry (including VMWare) and believe that versions of the software supporting the new technologies should be available around the time of the release of Barcelona.

Will it compare to Intel

AMD's Felipe Payer said that they would be "very comfortable" to put their 2GHz Barcelona part up against Intels 2.33GHz part and they believe that it can trade blows with the Core2Duo CPU. Also mentioned was that the release is due around August September time and that AMD would be looking to get a higher powered part out by the end of the year.

AMD also stated that they wanted to make sure that they released their multi-processor platforms alongside their single processor platforms to again ensure investor protection and to make sure their customers know where they are. Dell were mentioned during the talk and Filipe went on to say that AMD's clients are "very happy with what they have seen". This is a good sign, although AMD are hardly likely to say otherwise.

So what does all this mean?

Well for a start it means that AMD's Quad Core's are finally here and they have a whole bundle of features to go with them. AMD said that they wanted to "wait until we were ready with all the features we wante to have in our next-gen part". AMD have proved in the past with A64 that they can come out hitting big so it's not a good idea to discount them right now.

I am hoping that the new Barcelona server chips will give AMD that much needed boost in sales and Barcelona is a chip that can compete with Intel Core2 architecture where once the A64's did so well.

I personally will wait and see what the future has in store and see what the numbers say when we have the chips in hand.

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