AMD's 2H Investor Day is tomorrow and rumors whisper that the company will display Bulldozer
performance for the first time ever. In the past, AMD has often used Analyst Days to demonstrate upcoming products or to at least discuss them in more detail than it's done previously. If Bulldozer does make an appearance tomorrow it'll have a lot of weight to carry. AMD's share of the server market was flat in Q3 compared to Q2, despite the rapid proliferation of Magny-Cours
processors and the AMD 6000/4000 platforms.
Bulldozer's architecture in detail a few months ago and there hasn't been a lot of new technical info released since then. There's been some talk that AMD might try to launch Bulldozer earlier than it originally planned. At present, AMD's roadmap has Bobcat (40nm, low-power, TSMC) launching at the end of Q4, Llano launching in the first half of 2011 (probably more towards the summer), and Bulldozer dropping in the back half of the year.
AMD's octal-core (4 Bulldozer modules) Orochi processor
It makes sense for the company to pull Bulldozer in as quickly as it can; AMD's current desktop and server CPUs have both been flattened by Intel's Core i7 products in terms of raw performance. AMD still competes fairly well on price/performance, but it does so at Intel's sufferance. We don't say this to bash on AMD in any way, but to reflect a financial reality. Intel, with its higher margins and vastly deeper pockets could afford to sell Arrandale and Nehalem products at much lower prices than AMD could match.
We'd be more optimistic about Llano's ability to change AMD's market position if it was shipping in Q4 as oppposed to later next year. We don't doubt that Llano will be an improvement on existing Shanghai-derived AMD processors, but Intel's Sandy Bridge will almost certainly chomp any gap Llano manages to open. Bulldozer faces a similar problem, but the core's architecture and unique approach to SMT is a glimmer of hope that it may be capable of closing the gap between Sunnyvale and Santa Clara. If AMD does demonstrate the new architecture tomorrow, we're hoping it does so in a variety of workloads and user scenarios.
Bulldozer won't be the entire show; AMD has also announced it'll talk in much more detail about Brazos. That's the ultra-mobile platform that'll provide a comfy home for both Ontario (9W) and Zacate (18W). Hopefully that means we'll hear some specific details on the GPU core and see some hard numbers as well. Throughout the first half of 2011, Bobcat seems best-positioned to deliver AMD an additional chunk of market share.