AMD: Customers Demand More Cores

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News Posted: Wed, Sep 22 2010 2:16 PM
Quick, which would you rather have, higher clockspeeds or more CPU cores? The correct answer, of course, is a both, which is what separates enthusiasts who roll their own rigs from the civilians who buy their PCs at Best Buy with a Geek Squad set-up plan. But as power users, we're not so blinded by technology that we fail to realize software development has a long way to go to catch up with today's multi-core hardware. Partly for this reason, when AMD launched its 12-core AMD Opteron (you may know it as "Magny Cours") there was some internal uncertainty as to how it would be received. Not anymore.

"In looking through sales data for the first half of 2010, 12-core processors clearly outsold their 8-core counterparts -- by a wide margin," AMD's John Fruehe said. "I was expecting that there would be a slight bias towards the 12-core, but I figured there were plenty of applications where the extra clockspeed of an 8-core might be popular. Apparently, I was wrong, customers are voting with their budgets, and cores matter."

AMD's 12-core chips consist of two of these 6-core Istanbul parts

The way Fruehe sees it, as much as AMD would like to take credit for this phenomenon, the trend towards 12-core chips is really "just an indicator that the business world is hungry for more cores." And forget about bragging rights, in the business world, having more cores comes in handy for more than posting on your favorite forum the highest synthetic score you can achieve.

"Many customers have told me that they have a rule of 'one VM per core,' so with 12-core processors, their consolidation can get even denser," Fruehe explains. "With 24 cores in a 2P server, there are plenty of resources to allow all of the VMs to have plenty of access to compute power whenever they need it."

Other areas Fruehe sees 12-core processors becoming a popular option is in large databases and high performance computing, like Switzerland's new Cray XE6 supercomputer. This awesome system uses AMD 8- and 12-core chips to crunch through 12.2 to 20.2 teraflops per system cabinent.

"So, when it comes to core counts, our customers are sending a pretty clear signal us: Cores Matter. That message is very good to hear because next year will see 16 total cores in our Bulldozer-based products," Fruehe said.

What do you think is the current core-count 'sweet spot'? Are you looking forward to having more cores on the desktop, or is the hardware getting too far ahead of the software?
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Inspector replied on Wed, Sep 22 2010 3:25 PM

the hardware is getting too far ahead of the software. How many software out there will take up all those cores? When the time comes that most to all software will support it, we can then think about it.

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Sep 22 2010 6:37 PM

Let's see:

1 core to constantly check updates and that your OS license is valid...

1 core to check that you're not playing unlicensed music....

1 core to check that you're not watching pirated DVDs....

1 core that OCR's the screen to make sure you're not reading copyrighted text...

1 core to run on-demand apps of the RIAA/MPAA's choosing...

1 core to make sure the other cores are actually running their DRM checks...


Yeah... I'd say that 90% of the market is going to need 12 core systems before too long.  We'll also need about 100Gb of bandwidth, since installing anything locally will be verboten.

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most people could get along just fine with a speedy dual core... 

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realneil replied on Wed, Sep 22 2010 8:36 PM

My quad's run good, so does the triple.

I have the dual running the new Ubuntu Beta (it's cool by the way) and it runs fine.

I don't know how long it will take software to catch up with the PC muscle we already have, but it will happen.

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The high core count chips are really best suited to the enterprise/HPC market. Home users really have no need for anything past a quad core now'a'days (says the guy with the 6 core $999 chip in his rig).

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Blazer replied on Thu, Sep 23 2010 11:25 AM

I still am runing 2 cores, and there is nothing I have found that my system won't run exceptionally well.(The 8 gigs of ram help though)

i7 920 @ 3.8 gb, 12 gig g.skill PC3 12800 12GB (2GB x 6) CL 6-8-6-20-2N, 4 x Wd Black 640gig hd in raid 10 (storage), 2 OCZ vertex2 60gb raid 0 (boot), 2 Sapphire HD6850, Gigabyte X58A-UD5 mb, Silverstone SST-STF85F psu, cooled by corsair h50, and lots of fans in an Antec P160W case.    

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Yeah... I'd say that 90% of the market is going to need 12 core systems before too long.  We'll also need about 100Gb of bandwidth, since installing anything locally will be verboten.

Na The RIAA/MPAA will be telling congress soon that internet speeds over DSL are enabling pirates so we will all be throttled.

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crowTrobot replied on Fri, Sep 24 2010 10:47 AM

Screw more cores and faster speeds. How about better memory handling and better power saving features first AMD?


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