Introduction

A "Simulated 2.6GHz" AMD quad-core would beat the best Intel Xeon by 42%, or so we were told back in March at CeBIT. AMD's latest is a device with 463 million transistors designed to run at a clock speed of at least 2.2GHz, possibly 2.8GHz. Scheduled for launch in the middle of 2007, Intel's best Xeons would be once again in the rearview mirror of their AMD competitors. AMD's third generation Opteron sure looked very promising back in early spring 2007.

June, July, and August went by, but still no Barcelona, and when the news started to trickle in that AMD's newest quad-core would only reach 2GHz, AMD's future didn't look so bright anymore. It became even worse as the launch date and details of the newest 45nm Xeons popped up on a public webpage for resellers: November the 11th. New Xeons at clock speed up to 3.16GHz are thus only a few months away. "Not so bright" turned into "grim" - even "dark, really dark".


Luckily, today is the launch of AMD's third generation Opterons. It's only at 2GHz right now, but it's packed with many clever tricks to improve the number of instructions per cycle (IPC). There's also a surprise in store: 2.5GHz samples are already in the AnandTech lab, and they will be available to everyone in the fourth quarter. So there is a chance we still are going to experience an old fashioned breakneck race; a heated battle of epic proportions between AMD and Intel for the top spot in the server market. However, this will only occur if AMD's newest quad-core is able to outperform the Intel alternatives clock for clock by a decent margin. Read on to see whether AMD has been able to pull that one off...

Before we start, here are a few important notes on our testing. We were only given a few days with the newest quad-core before the NDA was finished. As a result our server benchmarking is only a preview, and we'll follow up with more details in the near future. Also, instead of repeating all of AMD's improvements to the core again, we'll simply refer to our previous article about Barcelona's architecture. We'll discuss these architectural improvements further together with the relevant benchmarks.

Finally, for those that are wondering what happens if you pick up a quad-core Opteron server and try to use it as a desktop (or just a hardware editor looking to predict Phenom performance as best as we're able), Anand has put together an AMD Phenom Preview where he does exactly that. Getting the GeForce 8800 GTX into a server chassis took some work, and the focus is on K8 versus Barcelona performance scaling, but the results might give a decent indication of where Phenom X4 will land in a couple months.

AMD's Newest Quad-Core
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  • kalyanakrishna - Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - link

    I don't deny people use MKL ... I dont agree that anyone targeting performance on AMD Opteron will use MKL. No one running HPL/Linpack for Top 500 submission would use MKL on Opteron. No one who wishes to test his Opteron for performance would use MKL to do so. No one wishing to have the fastest possible results from his Opteron will do so.

    Even ISV's now provide code that is optimized for Xeon and Opteron separately.
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - link

    Ok, point taken. Give us some time, and we'll follow up with new compilations of Linpack. Reply
  • kalyanakrishna - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    Thank you. Appreciate the effort. Reply
  • leexgx - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    and how offen do you read anandtechs Previews and reviews

    unlike when intels core 2 came out all the hipe was real, to bad for AMD this time

    this cpu is going to be good, problem is will it be able to compleat with Intels new cpu when it comes out

    i still useing an amd system if your wundering and so all the rest of my pcs apart from my server as i just thow in an old P4 mobo to just file sharein house (all second hand parts apart from the hdds)
    Reply
  • phaxmohdem - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    I wonder if it would be feasible for AMD to take the Intel approach, and slap two of there new native quad cores together and release an octal core CPU in the near future. Or would they remain the multi-core purists they have become... Similarly I wonder if 2 65nm Barecelona cores could even fit under that heat spreader... or come in under an acceptable thermal envelope. Reply
  • Accord99 - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    It won't fit on Socket F:

    http://www.madboxpc.com/news/am2/AMD_barcelona.jpg">http://www.madboxpc.com/news/am2/AMD_barcelona.jpg
    Reply
  • fic2 - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    Page 8, 3DS Max 9 last paragraph:
    "Dual 3GHz Opteron 2222 is capable of generating about 29 frames per hour", but then
    "potential 3GHz Barcelona will be able to spit out ~35 frames per second". I think that is supposed to be ~35 frames per hour. Otherwise that is an extremely impressive speedup!
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    No, it is "per second". We used a Octalcore 2THz Barcelona there.


    ... Thanks, fixed that one :-)
    Reply
  • phaxmohdem - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    Got SuperPi times for that beast? ;) Reply
  • Roy2001 - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    Kentsfield has 2*143mm^2 dies. Barcelona is 280+ mm^2. Penry would be even smaller, 2*100 mm^2. So unless AMD can increase the frequency to 3.0+Ghz soon and price their new quad-core processors higher than Intel's, AMD would be still in red unless it oursouces Athlon 64 to TSMC. Reply

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