Virtualization Technology News and Information
AMD quads to blaze past Intel

Quoting IT Week

AMD expects to power servers that are over 40 percent faster on floating-point operations than those based on Intel’s fastest comparable processor when it delivers its first quad-core processor this summer. The release could help win sales back for AMD after the announcement, on 22nd January, that Sun will turn to Intel for some server chips.

In a briefing with IT Week, AMD said systems based on its next Opteron revision, codenamed Barcelona, will also outperform AMD dual-core Opterons by about 80 percent.

AMD ascribes the impressive performance leap in part to the integration of the four cores on one processor die, compared to Intel’s Clovertown approach that packages two Woodcrest dual-core chips in one package, but also to other capabilities the firm said offer a more balanced system.

These include the HyperTransport I/O system but also a major upgrade of SSE128 instructions that quadruples floating-point performance, a cache memory design that offers both dedicated access and pooled L3 cache access for individual cores, and optimisations of the DRAM controller and the cores themselves. The improvements will add up to a 42 percent projected advantage over Intel’s Xeon 5355 based on the SPECfp benchmark, AMD said.

AMD said that it had also designed Barcelona with virtualisation in mind. A feature called “nested paging” will offer “near-native” performance on virtualisation applications by reducing the overhead involved in switching between virtual machines. Server consolidation will also be helped by the fact that Barcelona will ship for two-, four- and eight-way configurations packing up to 32 cores.

“[Intel’s quad-core Xeon] Clovertown is really nothing more than a doubling up of Woodcrest and an exercise in packaging but you make a decision to be first to market or best to market,” said Patrick Patia, AMD server and workstation division director. “We made the decision that we’re not going to just make the best database processor but to get the best balance of overall system.”

John Fruehe, AMD channel market development manager, said servers running four-way and eight-way configurations would also offer “a big bang for buck” in environments with 20 or more virtual machines.

Also appealing to IT buyers will be the ability to have a stable server image. Barcelona is compatible with current AMD Socket F systems and uses the same platform components including DDR2 RAM. DDR2 will also be the memory of choice for future quad-core ‘Budapest’ and ‘Shanghai’ releases.

However, Nathaniel Martinez, IDC European enterprise servers program manager, questioned mainstream demand for quad-core.

“Barcelona is a very strong product but dual-core has so far been enough for most users. The main growth we see is at the high-end with virtualisation.”

AMD said pricing will be in the same band as initial dual-core Opteron pricing.

Read or comment on the original, here.

Published Monday, January 29, 2007 10:34 PM by David Marshall
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