AMD Barcelona Architecture Launch: Native Quad-Core
More Details and Conclusion
AMD in also introducing a few enhancements with the Barcelona core designed to improve virtualization performance.
The new AMD-V instructions in Barcelona offer hardware acceleration of shadow paging, which allows guest operating systems to have their own memory management. AMD calls this feature “nested paging” and it should dramatically decrease the amount of time virtualization software needs to manage shadow pages. In fact, AMD claims up to a 79% increase in normalized transactions per minute with Barcelona versus the fastest current dual-core Opterons.
What you see above is a virtual decoder ring that explains the model numbering scheme used with the new Opterons. The first digit represents the maximum number of processors supported in a single system, the second represents the generation of the processors, and the third and fourth digits are used to designate relative performance.
We also have a breakdown of the pricing structure of the new Barcelona-based Opterons being launched today. The least expensive model will be the 2344 HE at $209 with the flagship 2.0GHz 8350 weighing in at $1019.
Looking at futures, we see of course that AMD's desktop equivalent Phenom processor, based on the same multi-core architecture as Barcelona, is due to arrive some time in December this year, along with the new 7XX series of chipsets. We've also heard that a Radeon refresh is due out this year as well, driven by a new manufacturing process migration for power consumption reduction.
Finally, in terms of future processor platforms, AMD is targeting the release of their first 45nm part in 1H08. Code-named Shanghai, this quad processor core, we've been told, will offer a 15% per-core performance boost, clock-for-clock and a significantly larger 6MB L3 cache supporting individual per-core 512KB caches. Beyond Shanghai we see Sandtiger, AMD's first octal-core effort that we're told is slated to arrive in a single socket MCM (Multi-Chip Module) solution utilizing HT3 high speed serial links for inter-processor communication.
And that wraps-up our preliminary coverage of AMD's new native quad-core architecture called Barcelona. We hope we also gave you some insight as to what AMD has in store in the months ahead as well. AMD representatives told us that these new Barcelona core based Opterons will be available in the channel in volume immediately. Unfortunately we weren't able to secure a Barcelona-based system for testing and deeper analysis for you here today, but we hope AMD can hit stride with these new quad-core processors and in addition turn up clock speeds to compete more vigorously with Intel. At 2GHz, it's going to be very hard to keeping pace with a 3GHz Clovertown-based quad core Xeon, not to mention the 45nm Penryn-based derivatives waiting in the wings.