The Bulldozer cores will also get that performance boost from a new twist on the turbo functions used by Intel and IBM in their respective Core/Xeon and Power6/7 processors, which allow a core to crank up its clock speed when other cores on the chip are not being used. Fruehe would not say how this turbo function will work, but said it would be more elegant than what has been done to date and that it will work dynamically, boosting performance or cutting it back as conditions on the system dictate.
Fruehe reiterated AMD's disdain for HyperThreading and any kind of simultaneous multithreading, contending that its approach of sharing certain components and yet having two real integer and floating point units (instead of virtual ones) was better for a lot of workloads. "Having 16 threads running on 16 cores is better than trying to cram 16 threads onto eight cores," Fruehe says emphatically.
The logical layout of the Valencia Opteron processor.
When pressed about how far this modular approach with the Bulldozer cores can go, Fruehe was not giving away much information, but did confirm that scaling the modules beyond 16 cores is "doable." It had better be, and with 32 nanometer wafer baking processes if AMD wants to keep on the Moore's Law curve and do a better job of keeping pace with rival Intel.
The first Bulldozers - presumably the high-end Interlagos parts - will sample at the end of this year to OEM partners in the server and workstation rackets, says Fruehe, and as the year goes on and AMD gets a better sense of how the 32 nanometer processes are working out at GlobalFoundries, it will provide some more precise launch dates for the Interlagos and Valencia Bulldozers. It seems likely that the pricier Interlagos parts that plug into the G34 sockets will come first, followed by a quarter or so by the Valencia parts that plug into the C32 sockets.
The "Zambezi" variant of the Bulldozer chip, aimed at the enthusiast desktop PC space as El Reg reported back in November 2009, is expected in 2011 as well. The Zambezi part is expected to come with four or eight cores and fit into an AM3 socket.
With the Bobcat cores for notebooks and netbooks, AMD is taking a K8 core and tweaking the heck out of it. Greg Hoepper, corporate vice president of design engineering who has managed the Bobcat design, says that the Bobcat core (which is a true, isolated core that does not share components) is "quite small" and that you could, in theory, put an "enormous number of these on a single die" if you wanted to. The early Bobcat implementations will put two cores on a die, with core counts going up form there.
While Hoepper is not giving out feeds and speeds on the chips, he did say this: "Bobcat is smaller than a single core Atom chip, and it has higher performance."
The Bobcat may be based heavily on the K8 core, but it doesn't cut any corners and has fully out-of-order execution of its instructions. The core sports a new set of logic for branch prediction. It supports the SSE1-3 SIMD instructions as well as the AMD-V virtualization extensions and the full AMD64 64-bit instruction set.
The Bobcat chip has 32 KB of L1 instruction cache that sits in front of the fetch and decode units. Below that are the integer, floating point, and address schedulers. The integer unit has two pipes, a load unit, and a store unit, and 32 KB of L1 data cache, while the floating point unit sits off to the side. Both the integer and floating point units share an on-chip L2 cache.
Next page: Power savers
I suppose I should put a title here. Nah.
This is a good move for AMD. From what I understand, Intel doesn't want to improve the performance of Atom, or allow it in anything over a certain size, etc., for fear of cannibalizing sales of the beefier chips. AMD can make it as fast as it can, and let you put it in whatever you want - definite advantages for the AMD chips.
Also, some mentioned there was no info on power consumption, well I quote you this, from the last page of the article:
"The Bobcat design is also meant to push the power envelope down, and can hit below one watt per core of power consumption, according to Hoepper."
Sure, it's about what a future chip may be able to do, and not really as specific as one might hope, but it's something. I'm sure we'll find out more before someone forces us to buy one...
What and double the price of the hardware?
Just give me a pocked sized netbook with this inside and I'll be happy running most Linux on it.
Performance is complicated...
...but a 5Ghz core 2 duo would wreck an i7 at a great many workloads.I think global compute resources have diverged enough that there is space for three different types of x86 CPUs.
Small low power many thread doohickies, good for lots of little programs or web servers. Would make good netbooks, laptops, and maybe would be useful for application virtualisation.
Slightly more beefy midrange things with a moderate (4-8) threads for folks doing some heavy lifting. Rendering, A/V editing or VDI.
Screamingly fast per-thread low core count (2 cores?) designed for workloads that need the straight-line speed and don’t multi-thread well.
The above is an article well worth reading on the topic. I think the complicated nature of performance means that the public’s “obsession” with Mhz isn’t necessarily wrong. Architecture and attempts to parallelise can only get you so far. There are still plenty of compute tasks for which what you really need is a bloody big bit cruncher going at as high a clock rate as they can make ‘em.
Put more simply: CISC !> RISC for all workloads.
Why would the Netbook Mfr's stay with Atoms?
That's not just a feeling about the Atom's capabilities, and it's not an artificially restriction - it is most definitely designed to fit inside a pretty tiny box. Why else would they put screen size restrictions on it - or intentionally limit the I/O bus so you can't really get the full oomph out of that ION2 GPU in your nettop/netbook. Many of Intel's design decisions - like the ECC memory controllers mentioned earlier - are designed to keep their different processor markets tiered and distinct.
To their credit, low-power CPUs were an unexplored/unserved market when Intel created the Atom and I am quite happy with the two Atom-based machines that I own... but at the same time I do have a problem with the Intel's [Low Power] = [Cheap Crippled Shit] equation.
Don't get me wrong, I understand that to achieve significant power efficiency like the 8 hours I get with my netbook I will not be able to have the same performance as my watt-guzzling multi-core full-size laptop that might make it 1:15... but if AMD can deliver a significant improvement in the performance-to-efficiency equation vs. Intel, I can't imagine Netbook, Laptop, and non-ARM "Pad" Manufacturers would stick with Intel just because of market share.
Put it this way, at comparable price points if Mfr. A's AMD-based Netbook can run for 10 hours, effectively run more than one application at a time, and run HD video (flash or otherwise) - and Mfr. B's Intel Atom-based Netbook can run for 10 hours, runs sluggish once you run more than 2 or 3 apps at a time, and skips/stutters all to hell when you try to watch HD video... Mfr. A is going to sell more Netbooks. The real question here IMO is if AMD can deliver.
They didn't mention specific wattage, no, but they did mention better power consumption. They didn't mention specific performance figures for the Bobcat either.
And no, it's not all about the watts. It's all about performance per watt. A netbook with a 24-hour battery life is no good if you can't do anything with it during those 24 hours.