The last time we had a turn around like this was when NVIDIA launched the GeForce FX. NVIDIA gave us a weekend, Superbowl Weekend to be exact, to review its latest GPU back in 2003. History was bound to repeat itself, and this time it was AMD keeping us occupied all weekend.

We got a call earlier in the week asking if we'd be able to turn around a review of AMD's Barcelona processor for Monday if we received hardware on Saturday. Naturally we didn't decline, and as we were secretly working on a Barcelona preview already, AMD's timing was impeccable.


What we've been waiting for

AMD shipped us a pair of 2U servers a day early, we actually got them on Friday but being in Denver at CEDIA we couldn't begin testing until Saturday. Luckily, Johan had Barcelona in Europe for over a week by this point and was already hard at work on server benchmarks. I augmented Johan's numbers with some additional results on these servers, but I had other plans in mind for the Barcelona system that AMD was sending me.


We went from no Barcelona, to fist-fulls of Barcelona in one weekend

You see, we've known for a while that Barcelona was going to do well for AMD on the server side. AMD is far more competitive there than in the desktop market, mostly thanks to its Direct Connect architecture, something Intel won't be able to duplicate until the end of 2008 with Nehalem. Barcelona will improve clock-for-clock performance over Opteron and is a drop in replacement for Socket-1207 servers with nothing more than a BIOS update; the Enterprise world couldn't be happier.

Things are different on the desktop; AMD hasn't been competitive since the launch of Core 2 in the Summer of 2006 and we're very worried that even after Phenom's late-year launch, the market still won't be competitive. While that's great for consumers today, the concern is that a non-competive AMD will bring about a more complacent Intel, which we do not want. We want the hungry Intel that we've enjoyed for the past year, we want ridiculous performance and aggressive pricing, and we won't get that without an AMD that can fight.

But AMD won't tell us anything about how Phenom will perform, other than that it will be competitive with Conroe/Kentsfield. So the goal here today is to get an idea of exactly how much faster Barcelona (the same core that'll be in Phenom X4) will be compared to the Athlon 64 X2.

We'll have more Barcelona server content coming as we spend more time with the system, but be sure to check out Johan's coverage to get a good idea of how Barcelona will compete in its intended market. If you're not familiar with Barcelona/Phenom architecture, or if you're confused as to exactly what Phenom is here's some required reading before proceeding.

2.0GHz Today, 2.5GHz Tomorrow
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    That's the first thing I tried, it didn't work :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • hirschma - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    quote:

    That's the first thing I tried, it didn't work :)


    That's sad, truly. Any inside scoop as to whether a Socket F FX will be seeing the light of day anytime soon?

    Thanks for the reply, anand.
    Reply
  • Visual - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    hey, that's bad news, but good that you let us know
    and i'm sure if you spam asus a bit they'll give you a bios fix before they even make it official :P
    Reply
  • Visual - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    Same thing i posted two posts up :p
    The only 4x4 (official name is quadFX btw) board out now is ASUS L1N64-SLI WS, k8 opterons work fine in it... lets hope these will too.
    Though it probably will take a bios update to at least show the cpu name properly.

    Would with 4 pci-e slots and SLI support, overclocking features, plenty of room around the sockets (for a dual-socket board anyway) this would make an excellent desktop.

    I also hope more quadFX boards come out soon. I like the asus, sure... but at least an update to support pci-express v2 would be good. If they also managed to fit more memory slots and all 4 gigabit lan ports that are supported by the chipset, it would be even better. And having choice between more brands would be a good thing too.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    This is a review that should not have been made. The Barcelona review by itself was enough to let people know what they could expect from a Phenom, instead of introducing bad data onto the web. First of all, the Barcelona is different from the Phenom, they have different cache arrangements, and that does make a difference.

    And then, the chart about the Barcelona competing with two dual-core K8s is so bad I wanted to scream. The pair of dual cores can access memory at the same time, the single quad-core can not. This is not an advantage a K8 will have over a Phenom in equivalent configurations.

    I know you need hits for sites like this, but this is just a bad review. It's like telling everyone they are too stupid to really get an idea from real information, and instead need for you to use misinformation due to bad comparisons, to tell them what you think the performance will be like. It's bad.
    Reply
  • sdsdv10 - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    Actually, if you read the beginning of the article AMD asked them (Anandtec) to do this.


    quote:

    We got a call earlier in the week asking if we'd be able to turn around a review of AMD's Barcelona processor for Monday if we received hardware on Saturday. Naturally we didn't decline, and as we were secretly working on a Barcelona preview already, AMD's timing was impeccable.


    Furthermore, AMD was responsible for the system the CPU's were tested on.

    quote:

    AMD shipped us a pair of 2U servers a day early,


    Don't go bashing Anandtech for doing something AMD asked them to do, just because you don't like the results.
    Reply
  • MadBoris - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    It wasn't a review, it was a preview.
    It should be taken with a grain of salt, and yes the dual K8's is not the best comparison, it opens up even more questions to what the real world penalty from two sockets actually is.

    But all of us really want to know what it means for us, not just integer intensive tests but FP like for games, etc.

    Probably the most informative benchmark to me would have been the performance of a single core K8 vs K10, which would have showed me the improvements of the architecture and I can extrapolate alot from there. Running onecpu boot option with Vista could have done that, but they were pressed for time.

    Also Supreme Commander is one of the most CPU dependant games around, with rendering and sim threads, so it will clearly show CPU granularity probably better than any other game currently.
    Reply
  • leexgx - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    we need to see Single Thread tests as well to see what an k8 cpu running in 1 cpu mode that an k10 can do in 1 cpu mode (both running at the same 2ghz speed)

    it has to be faster then my 3.1ghz cpu if i am going to get it (Quad be nice tho)

    and the tests should be done under XP if ony 1 cpu is going to be used Vista has to many services that can interfere with results (booting up into vista now is now resulting in Constant hard disk use whare as my XP setup just the start thats an little slow when desktop is first loading after that programs are faster)
    Reply
  • MadBoris - Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - link

    quote:

    we need to see Single Thread tests as well to see what an k8 cpu running in 1 cpu mode that an k10 can do in 1 cpu mode (both running at the same 2ghz speed)


    That is what I said earlier as well, single threaded comparison between K8 and K10 would tell me alot...
    So http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/13176/5">techreport to the rescue.

    Cinebench single thread: (higher better)
    Opteron 2218 HE (K8 2.6GHZ) - 2449
    Opteron 2360 SE (K10 2.5Ghz) - 2385
    No architectural improvement witnessed here on a single core with k10.

    Myrimatch: (lower better)
    1 thread Opteron 2218 HE (K8 2.6GHZ) - 506
    1 thread Opteron 2360 SE (K10 2.5Ghz) - 656
    2 thread Opteron 2218 HE (K8 2.6GHZ) - 353
    2 thread Opteron 2360 SE (K10 2.5Ghz) - 373
    Decent improvement witnessed here on a single thread, but then 2 threads on K10(373) falls much closer to the level of K8(353). This protein benchmark likely reacts to some memory benefits, because other tests don't show raw computational advantages.

    STARS Euler3d: (higher better)
    1 thread Opteron 2218 HE (K8 2.6GHZ) - .53
    1 thread Opteron 2360 SE (K10 2.5Ghz) - .54
    2 thread Opteron 2218 HE (K8 2.6GHZ) - .96
    2 thread Opteron 2360 SE (K10 2.5Ghz) - .96
    No tangible architectural improvement witnessed here on a single core with k10 OVER k8.

    So it looks like the actual core architecture is not all that much better on K10 over K8. Surely nothing like the advance we saw with a Core 2 architecture (Although Intel had alot of room for improvement over prescott).

    The K10 begins to really advance and scale with 4 threads (probably a product of 2 socket penalty with K8). Scaling beyond 4 threads is obviously where the K10 will show it's legs, and 2 - 4 sockets on K10 is where it will scale better than Intel.
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - link

    Madboris, your analyzation on Myrimatch tests are wrong. Let's take a look at your post about Myrimatch:

    quote:

    Myrimatch: (lower better)
    1 thread Opteron 2218 HE (K8 2.6GHZ) - 506
    1 thread Opteron 2360 SE (K10 2.5Ghz) - 656
    2 thread Opteron 2218 HE (K8 2.6GHZ) - 353
    2 thread Opteron 2360 SE (K10 2.5Ghz) - 373
    Decent improvement witnessed here on a single thread, but then 2 threads on K10(373) falls much closer to the level of K8(353). This protein benchmark likely reacts to some memory benefits, because other tests don't show raw computational advantages


    It's time in seconds, meaning at one thread, Opteron 2218 HE is approximately 30% faster than the 2360 HE. In 2 threads, Barcelona does better as it closes up to the K8, but still doesn't have an advantage.
    Reply

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