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Intel Haswell TSX Erratum as Grave as AMD Barcelona TLB Erratum

Intel's "Haswell" micro-architecture introduced the transactional synchronization extensions (TSX) as part of its upgraded feature-set over its predecessor. The instructions are designed to speed up certain types of multithreaded software, and although it's too new for any major software vendor to implement, some of the more eager independent software developers began experimenting with them, only to discover that TSX is buggy and can cause critical software failures.

The buggy TSX implementation on Core "Haswell" processors was discovered by a developer outside Intel, who reported it to the company, which then labeled it as an erratum (a known design flaw). Intel is addressing the situation by releasing a micro-code update to motherboard manufacturers, who will then release it as a BIOS update to customers. The update disables TSX on affected products (Core and Xeon "Haswell" retail, and "Broadwell-Y" engineering samples).

Intel Reveals Details of Next-Generation High-Performance Computing Platforms

At SC11, Intel Corporation revealed details about the company’s next-generation Intel Xeon processor-based and Intel Many Integrated Core (Intel MIC)-based platforms designed for high-performance computing (HPC). The company also outlined new investments in research and development that will lead the industry to Exascale performance by 2018.

During his briefing at the conference, Rajeeb Hazra, general manager of Technical Computing, Intel Datacenter and Connected Systems Group, said that the Intel Xeon processor E5 family is the world’s first server processor to support full integration of the PCI Express 3.0 specification**. PCIe 3.0 is estimated** to double the interconnect bandwidth over the PCIe* 2.0 specification** while enabling lower power and higher density server implementations. New fabric controllers taking advantage of the PCI Express 3.0 specification will allow more efficient scaling of performance and data transfer with the growing number of nodes in HPC supercomputers.

Review Consensus: AMD FX Processor 8150 Underwhelming

It's been in the works for over three years now. That's right, the first we heard of "Bulldozer" as a processor architecture under development was shortly after the launch of "Barcelona" K10 architecture. Granted, it wasn't possible to load close to 2 billion transistors on the silicon fab technology AMD had at the time, but AMD had a clear window over the last year to at least paper-launch the AMD FX. Delays and bad marketing may have cost AMD dearly in shaping up the product for the market.

After drawing a consensus from about 25 reviews (links in Today's Reviews on the front page), it emerges that:
  • AMD FX-8150 is missing its performance expectations by a fair margin. Not to mention performance gains in its own presentation, these expectations were built up by how AMD was shaping the product to be a full-fledged enthusiast product with significant performance gains over the previous generation
  • AMD ill-marketed the FX-8150. Hype is a double-edged sword, and should not be used if you're not confident your offering will live up to at least most of the hype. AMD marketed at least the top-tier FX-8000 series eight-core processors as the second coming of Athlon64 FX.

AMD Extends AMD Fusion Partner Program to Distributors

Today at the Canalys Channels Forum in Barcelona, AMD is marking the one-year anniversary of the AMD Fusion Partner Program with the introduction of the AMD Fusion Partner Program distributor track. The expanded program will provide distributor partners access to all of the benefits within the AMD Fusion Partner Program to help accelerate sales of AMD-based solutions. AMD is also unveiling the AMD Rewards Program, which creates added sales-based incentives for partners to drive channel sales growth.

“It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time,” said David Kenyon, corporate vice president, Worldwide Channel Marketing, AMD. “By extending the AMD Fusion Partner Program to all of our valued distribution partners, AMD is proud to now offer them vital information, motivation, support and incentives to help them to be successful in today’s marketplace.”

AMD Details Bulldozer Processor Architecture

AMD is finally going to embrace a truly next generation x86 processor architecture that is built from ground up. AMD's current architecture, the K10(.5) "Stars" is an evolution of the more market-successful K8 architecture, but it didn't face the kind of market success as it was overshadowed by competing Intel architectures. AMD codenamed its latest design "Bulldozer", and it features an x86 core design that is radically different from anything we've seen from either processor giants. With this design, AMD thinks it can outdo both HyperThreading and Multi-Core approaches to parallelism, in one shot, as well as "bulldoze" through serial workloads with a broad 8 integer pipeline per core, (compared to 3 on K10, and 4 on Westmere). Two almost-individual blocks of integer processing units share a common floating point unit with two 128-bit FMACs.

AMD is also working on a multi-threading technology of its own to rival Intel's HyperThreading, that exploits Bulldozer's branched integer processing backed by shared floating point design, which AMD believes to be so efficient, that each SMT worker thread can be deemed a core in its own merit, and further be backed by competing threads per "core". AMD is working on another micro-architecture codenamed "Bobcat", which is a downscale implementation of Bulldozer, with which it will take on low-power and high performance per Watt segments that extend from all-in-One PCs all the way down to hand-held devices and 8-inch tablets. We will explore the Bulldozer architecture in some detail.

AMD Readying Low Cost ''Suzuka'' Opteron Processors

Over a month into the release of its flagship enterprise processor, the six-core Opteron codenamed "Istanbul", the company expressed plans to roll out another line of Opteron chips, this time targeting the cost-effective SME market, and not exactly power scaling and parallelism offered by its two-socket and multi-socket capable Opteron 2000 and Opteron 8000 series. The new quad-core processor will be codenamed "Suzuka", and will be made for single-socket systems. For this reason, it will not use the 1207-pin Socket F, but rather the AM3 socket, and will be compatible with existing AM2(+) motherboards that support the Budapest quad-core chip (single socket version of Barcelona).

Suzuka shares the same die design as Shanghai (Opteron) and Deneb (Phenom II). It features four x86-64 processing cores on a monolithic die, with 512 KB of L2 cache per core, and a shared 6 MB L3 cache. Dual DDR2/DDR3 memory controllers work in ganged or unganged dual-channel modes. Currently three models are ready, the 2.50 GHz Opteron 1381, 2.70 GHz Opteron 1385, and 2.90 GHz 1389. These chips are specified to come with system bus speeds of 2200 MT/s (HyperTransport bus actual speed of 1100 MHz). All three models come with a rated TDP of around 115 W, and is built on the 45 nm SOI process. Opteron 1381 is priced at US $189, Opteron 1385 at $229, and Opteron 1389 at $269.Source: AMD

AMD Justifies Use of Large L3 Cache on Phenom II, Opteron

AMD's introduction of the Phenom II series processors served several purposes and goals for the company, mainly porting the processor technology to the newer 45nm SOI manufacturing node, to attempt to bring down manufacturing cost. This also meant that AMD could trade-off bringing down manufacturing cost with stepping up transistor counts on a die that is nearly the size of that of the 65nm Barcelona/Agena. The 45nm Shanghai/Deneb has a distinct feature over its predecessor: three times the amount of L3 cache. The larger cache significantly adds to the transistor count of the die: 758 million as against the 468 million on Barcelona/Agena. Replying to an inquiry of Hardware-Infos, AMD attempts to explain its motive behind incorporating the large L3 cache, while trading-off with savings of die-size and alleged latencies the L3 cache brings in.

AMD points out that expanding the L3 cache was important to the architecture in more ways than one. On the desktop/client PC front, the additional L3 cache was expected to provide a 5% performance increment over its predecessor. The reviews later backed AMD's assertion. Secondly, AMD likes to maintain an essentially common die design for both its client (Phenom II/Deneb) and enterprise or server (Opteron/Shanghai), to make sure manufacturing costs aren't wasted in setting up a separate manufacturing node. With the enterprise-grade Opteron processors, the 6 MB L3 cache has proven to benefit the processor in dealing with large server workloads. Finally, AMD claims that despite the larger cache, the overall die-area of the 45nm die remains lesser than that of the 65nm Stars die, so cost-cutting remains to an extant.

Source: Hardware-Infos

First Sketch of AMD Socket G34 Presented

AMD wants to leave the Barcelona (rather K10) debacle behind it as it moves closer to a newer processor architecture. This paves way for AMD to incorporate strong memory and system interface links. The G34 socket though touted to be a successor for the current socket 1207, is believed to be a standard socket for both enterprise and PC processors. AMD is working on a new CPU architecture codenamed 'Bulldozer'. Derivatives include monolithic 8-core and 12-core processors. The 12-core processor is now codenamed Magny-Cours, the 8-core part is called Sao Paulo. These processors could feature four parallel HyperTransport 3.0 interconnects, upto 12 MB of L3 cache and 512 KB L2 cache per core. It's known that AMD could be working on quad-channel DDR3 (both registered DDR3 under G3MX and unregistered). Socket G34 seems to have 1,974 pins.

The provision of four independent HyperTransport interconnects means that the fourth interconnect can be dedicated as a peer-to-peer interconnect between two sockets in a dual-socket setup, or its bandwidth split to form daisy-chains with multiple sockets. A prelude to AMD's Torrenza enterprise platform, which would allow use of several co-processors of different architectures including ClearSpeed to be embedded in workstations.

Source: DailyTech

AMD: First Barcelona Systems Set to Ship in April

The first systems running Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s new quad-core Barcelona chip are expected to hit the market in April, AMD executives said today. Pushing the delayed processor out into the market will give the company a boost in what has been a lagging competition with rival Intel. Kevin Knox, vice president of AMD's commercial business reported that a series of hardware vendors, including Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Dell Inc., will be launching Barcelona-based servers between now and the end of the second quarter. "We're pretty excited about that because it opens us up to a market we hadn't played heavily in before," said Knox, acknowledging that Barcelona is four to six months late because of the Transition Lookaside Buffer (TLB) bug in all Barcelona and Phenom chips. Now after the B3 stepping is finally starting to ship, AMD is gradually starting to place Barcelona chips in major server brands.Source: ComputerWorld

CEO Admits AMD 'Bungled' Barcelona Launch

AMD CEO Dirk Meyer had something to say to the press today, and it was something along the lines of bungling (I love that word) the Barcelona launch. As The Inquirer so eloquently puts it, Barcelona "was hyped as the best thing since nylon stockings. In the end it was launched six months late, failed to work then, and is now adrift on high seas, apparently following its arch-competitor's Itanic on a trip to Laughing Stock Island." As far as an official statement goes, Dirk Meyer had this to say regarding Barcelona:
We haven’t delivered our quad core product according to plan. We’ll make good on our promise to deliver hundreds of thousands of quad core processors, but we’re disappointed. We blew it, and we're very humbled by it. And we learned from it, and we're not going to do it again.
If AMD's financial records continue their abysmal performance, and the stock continues sinking below the four-year low it currently is at, AMD may not have too many more chances to redeem their reputation.Source: The Inquirer

AMD Refreshes Math Library to Include 128-bit Barcelona Support

Today, AMD released the first of what will be two major upgrades to their AMD Core Math Library (ACML) in the coming year. This first includes support for Barcelona's native 128-bit SIMD engine. It works with Windows, Linux and Solaris, and doubles the floating point operations per clock to 8 on Barcelona, up from 4. The major upgrade next year will include direct support for heterogeneous processing using their recently announced FireStream 64-bit stream processor. The refresh brings ACML up to version 4.0. The library is available for free download and includes enhancements to their base math algorithms. These include Level 1, 2 and 3 Basic Linear Alegbra Subroutines (BLAS), Linear Algebra (LAPACK) routines, Fast Fourier Transforms (FFTs) in single, double, single-complex and double-complex data types, scalar, vector, array and transcendental math functions. A pseudo-random number generator is also included with both single and double precision generation. AMD has worked with PathScale, PGI and Sun, as well as Microsoft and the Linux community at large, to include special optimizations and native library support in their products. AMD also has a CodeAnalyst tool, which is similar in function to intel's VTune, though with a lesser set of comprehensive abilities. It is also available for free download.Source: TG Daily

AMD Highlights Optimized Integration Between Barcelona CPUs and Microsoft Products

AMD today announced it is demonstrating platforms based on Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors, including features designed to help Microsoft Windows application developers optimize their software applications through tools in upcoming software products from Microsoft Corp. The technology demonstrations at the conference in Barcelona, Spain show new integration with Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors.

Gateway Servers to Offer New Quad-Core AMD Opteron Processors

Gateway, Inc., the nation’s third largest PC vendor, will offer the powerful new Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors in its entry-level tower server and complete line of rackmount servers. The new AMD processors feature four cores on one piece of silicon in the same thermal envelopes as the previous generation of dual-core AMD Opteron processors, for an increase in performance without an increase in heat generation.

AMD Introduces Quad-Core Barcelona

AMD today introduced the Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor, the world’s most advanced x86 processor ever designed and manufactured and the first native x86 quad-core microprocessor. Designed from inception for the most demanding datacenters, Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor-based servers from global OEMs and system builders can deliver breakthrough capabilities to customers in a time of dramatically escalating performance-per-watt emphasis.

AMD to Webcast Barcelona Quad-Core Premiere Event

AMD today announced that it will hold its Premiere Event for the launch of the Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor at approximately 6:30 pm Pacific Time (9:30 pm ET) on Monday, Sept. 10, 2007. The event will be webcast live and can be accessed here. A replay of the webcast can be accessed at this site approximately one hour after the conclusion of the live event and will be available for 10 days after the event. The webcast will also be available at AMD

Dell Reveals Barcelona Performance

Barcelona should be available next week and when compared with Intel's Clovertown, Barcelona is 30% faster than Clovertown at floating point instructions. However, at integer instructions, Clovertown is approximately 30% faster than Barcelona. Dell also says they will continue to use AMD processors in their line up to give their customers a variety of choices to choose from.Source: EETimes

AMD Releases Barcelona Pricing

AMD plans to launch nine new quad-core processors later this month with clock speeds ranging from 1.7 GHz to 2.0 GHz. The initial launch will only have two thermal bins, 68-Watt and 98-Watt TDP. AMD’s two-way capable quad-core Opteron 2300 series launch with five new models. Pricing for the two-way capable models start at around $206 and go up as high as $372. On the multi-way side of things, AMD has four quad-core Opteron 8300 models starting at a $688 entry price all the way up to $1,004. Desktop users will have to wait until Q4 of 2007 for AMD’s Phenom to experience quad-core.Source: DailyTech

Barcelona issues

With the passable launch date of September 10 there seems two be a couple of problems with the chip and compatibility. It seems that the Dual Dynamic Power Management will not work without a BIOS update, and with a supported motherboard. This is something to be expected from knowing that some features will not be supported on former socket types.

“It seems the CPU itself is capable of engaging in CoolCore operations, but not Dual Dynamic Power Management (formerly “Split Plane,” which allowed each core to operate independently with different voltages and clock speeds). It won’t be able to handle these power saving and performance enhancing aspects of operations from the core alone. The motherboard must be brought into the mix in an active way to help reduce power consumption and save energy when the many cores are not in high use.”

The other issue while not truly being an issue is the 128-bit floating point. There simply isn't any software on the market to take advantage of it. Hearing something like this isn't new to the PC market at all. The 64Bit CPUs are just now starting to see the light after a few years of their release, and Dual core CPUs are also just now starting to be implemented into applications. It's safe to say that the 128-bit floating point technology may take some time before developers start using it.Source: HotHardware

AMD’s Fab 36 Fully Converted to 65nm Process Technology

Advanced Micro Devices announced during the most recent teleconference with analysts that its Fab 36 had been fully converted to modern process technology and also said that the yield of those products was high enough.
Our Fab 36 conversion to 65nm is complete, with yields exceeding expectations and we now turn all our attention to 45nm [transition]
said Dirk Meyer, the president and chief operating officer at AMD, during the conference call.
As a result, AMD’s first 65nm quad-core Opteron processors code-named Barcelona will be introduced in August or September, but will only run at 2.0GHz, whereas faster parts are projected to become available in Q4 2007.Source: X-bit labs

AMD Griffin pixelated

Intel has been creating waves with the new Centrino Pro/Duo plattform (although they dropped the "plattform" part) and AMD is trying to stay in the news. They have now shown off the upcoming Griffin CPU at the Microprocessor Forum 2007. The CPU itself is about as big as a compact flash card. I will come in combination with the RS780 Chipset, which features up to 14 USB 2.0 port & 6 SATA ports. Intel's Robson (or Turbo Memory) will be taken on by AMD's Hypermemory offering. There will be support for HDMI and DisplayPort as well. All this should be available in mid 2008.

Source: PC Watch (jap)

Intel responds to Barcelona benchmarks

In response to AMD's Barcelona benchmarks Intel demoed its V8 platform. Two quad core Xeons at 3GHz with 16GB RAM score an impressive 4933 pixels per second in POV-Ray. In comparison AMD's quad quad core Barcelona (16 cores total) score just over 4000 pixels per second. Even though AMD did not mention the clockspeed and said the final version will run faster AMD still uses 16 cores while Intel uses 8. Of course Barcelona is not yet a final product, Intel is not impressed though.
Besides that Intel also demoed a Penryn which outperformed the current top of the line quad cores by 40%, quite impressive.Source: Überpulse

AMD Barcelona system pictured

[H]ard|OCP has taken a few snaps of AMD's Barcelona system, displayed at AMD's event in Monterey, California.

What you see in the pictures below are single processor and dual processor configurations. Take note, those are Radeon X2900 XT video cards in the systems. Ian McNaughton showed off both systems encoding a 1080P trailer of Spiderman 3 to an H.264 format. On the dual quad-core Barcelona machine the encoding nearly ran real time.

Source: HardOCP

AMD’s debt piling up

Chip maker AMD is struggling financially at present, largely due to the $5.4 billion acquisition of ATI last year. The company had already reported a net loss of $611 million for the quarter ending March 31st, but it has now been forced to raise finance by offering Convertible Senior Notes to investors. These differ from stocks because AMD will have to pay back the money it has raised once its stocks hit a price of $42.12 (the current price is at $14) which is essentially plunging the firm further into debt. Analysts are now worried that AMD could run out of cash by the forth quarter of this year if it doesn’t borrow more money, with an estimated figure of just $1.1 billion in the bank. Meanwhile, AMD’s closest rival Intel is in it’s strongest market position since 2005, with profits of $1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2007. AMD will be banking on the new Barcelona core and the R600 series of graphics cards to help it back onto its feet.Source: DailyTech

AMD Claiming 50% server advantage

AMD is claiming that its new quad-core Barcelona processors could outshine Intel’s Xeon processors by as much as 50% in floating-point performance, as well as having a 20% advantage when it comes to integer performance. However, despite this claim, the actual benchmarks for the SPECcpu2006 test seem difficult to come across on AMD’s website – despite AMD supposedly giving a link – so it’s difficult to verify at present.

Luckily, it’s much easier to find the results comparing AMD’s new Opteron 2222 processor and Intel’s 3.0GHz Xeon 5160. These show AMD enjoying greater performance by as much as 15% in some SPUCcpu2006 tests, which it credits to its Direct Connect Architecture and DDR2 memory. Obviously it would be a good idea to take these results with a pinch of salt considering they come directly from AMD, but Barcelona certainly looks promising. Read on for the complete press release.
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