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AMD boosts Barcelona integer performance

Posted: 25 Apr 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:integer performance? quad-core Opteron? Barcelona quad-core processor?

Advanced Micro Devices revealed its upcoming quad-core Opteron will exceed the integer performance of Intel Corp's high-end four-core CPU by 20 percent. Previously, the company had only said the chip will provide a "double digit" boost over its archrival's processor.

New test results based on the SPECcpu2006 benchmarks show AMD's Barcelona processor will have "up to a 50 percent advantage in floating point performance and 20 percent in integer performance" over Intel's high-end quad-core chip running "at the same frequency," according to a statement from AMD.

The news comes at a time when AMD is cutting expenses under pressure of a price war with Intel. One analyst said the company faces a financial crunch due to the price war.

Significant edge?
It's not clear whether Barcelona will provide the significant advantage AMD needs to pull out of the intense pricing pressure. While Barcelona's floating point advantage is significant, most applications are based on integer calculations, an area where Barcelona has less of an edge over Intel CPUs.

In addition, Intel announced it has as many as 15 CPUs in design in its upcoming 45nm process, many of them shipping this year. AMD's Barcelona is made in a 65nm process, which typically would not have transistors as fast, small or lower power as the new Intel process.

AMD has laid out a plan to be a fast follower of Intel in new process technologies. However, it's not clear how cutbacks announced last week could slow down its plans to move to 45nm technology.

At a February press event, AMD had said Barcelona would provide a 42 percent gain in floating-point performance over Intel's Xeon X5355 also known as Clovertown. Although the floating point advantage is significant, few applications outside high performance computing and video encoding make use of it. Nevertheless, analysts were positive on the news from the February event.

Slew of new benchmarks
In addition, AMD rolled out April 23 a wide slate of new benchmarks comparing its existing dual-core Opteron with rival Intel processors. The company also created a new Website to discuss the architectural efficiencies of Barcelona. The CPU's ongoing use of the HyperTranport interconnect provides a simpler transition for system makers, AMD claimed.

"With our native quad-core technology, AMD continues to build off of a consistent architecture and will deliver more than just four processing cores," said Randy Allen, corporate VP of AMD's server and workstation division in a prepared statement.

Separately, AMD's graphics division is also slipping behind its archrival NVidia.

In February, AMD gave one of the first public demos of the R600, its next-generation graphics controller that uses 320 multiply-accumulate units. Release of the R600 has been delayed "a few weeks" so that AMD can roll out a full suite of graphics chips covering multiple market segments for the latest Microsoft DirectX 10 applications programming interface.

NVidia rolled out its high-end DX10 graphics controller, the GeForce 8800 last fall. The company followed up with a full line of graphics controllers based on the 8800 last week.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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