How Fast Will AMD ‘Barcelona’ Be?

LOS ANGELES – Much of the talk among reporters and analysts here at WinHEC concerns oft-repeated claims emerging from AMD last week concerning preliminary estimates of the relative speed of its new “Barcelona” server processor generation, especially compared to Intel equipment.

Multiple sources have quoted slightly different variations on the claims they’d heard from headquarters, so this afternoon, during an interview ostensibly about hardware-based virtualization (more on that later), BetaNews sought to clarify the claim.

The importance of the claim is to establish whether AMD will keep a toehold on its perceived performance leadership currently held by Opteron processors, particularly in quad-core configurations. Last week, AMD officials stated they’re confident that the new Opterons (which is how they referred to the “Barcelona” generation) will be 40-50% faster than current generation Intel Xeon server processors.

But what generation? Were they dual-core or quad-core? At what clock speeds? And with what tasks?

Today we know more about the facts behind that claim than we did, which may not be enough. A source within the company told an AMD spokesperson in our presence today that the claim is for 50% faster performance in floating-point tasks (not integer, which is important from a performance perspective) than Intel’s current Clovertown generation processors clocked at 2.6 GHz. Clovertowns are quad-core Xeons.

What we do not know is the clock speed of the Barcelonas in that test – whether they match “clock-for-clock,” in other words. We asked, and we’re told we may yet receive clarification.

The answer to that quandary is also very important. If the clock speeds match, then perhaps the upcoming Barcelona announcement is not all that interesting.

Engineers are wondering whether AMD will try to pull off its four-cores-on-one-die architecture at 2.8 GHz or higher. Sure, that might make the benchmark test look a little unfair, but it’d still be a big story, for a different reason.

News source: BETANEWS


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