The clock has "ticked" and Intel has released a refresh to the quad-core Xeon line-up, code-named Harpertown. AMD has also finally released their quad-core Opteron, code-named Barcelona. Intel is on what they like to call a tick-tock release cycle of processors. Every "tick" is a refresh of the current architecture, and a "tock" represents a new architecture. AMD doesn't seem to be on any pattern of release cycles, and the Barcelona launch is a bit late and not as well organized as some of their previous product launches.


Harpertown will launch with clock speeds all the way up to 3.16GHz, and will also ship two low voltage parts (2.3GHz and 2.6GHz). The rumor mill speculates that Intel may be able to reach 3.4GHz with the new 45nm process shrink. Barcelona on the other hand is launching at 2.0GHz with speeds down to 1.7GHz. There will be three low voltage Barcelona parts at launch: 1.7GHz, 1.8GHz and 1.9GHz. Frankly, it's more than a bit disappointing that AMD wasn't able to launch at higher clock-speeds; however, they are planning to have higher-clocked parts towards year-end that will only require a few more watts to run.

For quite some time now Intel has been living the high-life in the quad-core arena, even though both AMD and the media criticized them for gluing two dual-core processors together to create their quad-core product line. AMD has lost market share to Intel over the past couple of years, mostly due to the success Intel has had with their current Core architecture. One does wonder if AMD might have sat too long on the Opteron before making head-way into a new design or moving along a bit quicker to quad-core; yes, there was work happening, including an aborted architecture, but when you're fighting the reigning heavyweight such mistakes can be costly. Obviously, AMD has had a rough year with respect to their finances, but hopefully they are on the mend and Barcelona is the beginning of an upswing.

We've already looked at Barcelona in several previous articles, but Harpertown is the new kid on the block this week. That being the case, we'll start with a closer look at Intel's latest addition to their lineup.

What's new with the Harpertown Xeon
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  • Justin Case - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    Anyone else feel that the first image...

    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/it/2007/barcel...">http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/it/2007/barcel...

    ...looks somewhat... er... phallic?

    Reply
  • TA152H - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    Oh my, you're absolutely right.

    That's really foul. Even the area between the Tick and Tock looks like the urethra. It's so wrong. Is that really the only way they could have presented the information? I mean, if they wanted to get pornographic, couldn't they have used a woman's breasts? Right one for Tick, left one for Tock? It's much more attractive than this.
    Reply
  • Regs - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    Marketing geniuses. Intel at its best. A better product, with a bigger...


    In all do seriousness, It's no surprise AMD can't compete with an architecture that's been out for over a year. AMD needs more tweaks and needs more clock speed. I just hope they don't disappoint again like they did with the K8. 4-5 years of stagnation.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    I think it comes down to Intel being wiser than AMD. They were always smarter, as evidenced by their much more advanced processors like the P7 and Itanium. But AMD was wiser, and chose an easier path that also performed better. Intel had all the great technology, super-advanced trail blazing stuff that just didn't work that well. AMD made the same mistake by going native quad-core before they were ready. Consequently, they have a poor performing part compared to what Intel has, today, and promises for tomorrow. Obviously, the extent of their failure isn't as deep-rooted as the Pentium 4 was and at least the Barcelona can be improved (mainly by clock speed) more quickly, but the big problem is that the Barcelona is getting raped by Intel processors using FB-DIMMS. You add clock speed to the Barcelona, and the power goes up (everything else being equal). You change FB-DIMMS out, and you get better performance and lower power. So, the future doesn't look that bright for AMD, despite the fact they should gain clock speed pretty quickly. It's unlikely to help their power/performance much. Intel using more appropriate memory will to a great extent. Also, if AMD does manage to get close to Intel in performance, Intel will just release a higher performing part. They can hit much higher than 3.2 with their G0 stepping, so it's really a matter of whether it makes marketing sense.

    But, it sure sounds good to have native quad-core, and they sure were smart to do it. Right? Just like Intel was to come out with trace-cache, double-pumped ALUs, and super-pipelining and unheard of clock speeds.

    But all that aside, if they can get the clock speeds up to a reasonable amount, and increase the size of the pathetic caches (yes, I know they are limited by the IMC and it limits it, but still 512K????) and in a release or two get full memory disambiguation, they will have a really good product. It will at least be competitive.
    Reply
  • Justin Case - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    Any reason why the AMD system had 16 GB of RAM (8x2GB) while the Intel system had only 8GB (4x2GB)?

    Also, any reason for the big differences in cooling (AMD system had 7 fans, Intel system had 3)? If the Barcelona system actually uses <i>less power</i>, as your numbers show, surely it can't dissipate <i>more</i> heat.

    When you're measuring the power consumption of the whole system (and extrapolating that to the power efficiency of each CPU), you should try to make the configurations match as closely as possible, no? Not to mention that the amount of RAM can have an influence on the actual system performance.

    I could understand different configurations if you were testing systems at a specific price point (and couldn't "afford" more RAM for the Intel system due to the more expensive CPUs, for example), but that wasn't the case here.

    Reply
  • Xspringe - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    I would really like to see updated benchmark scores as well! It only seems fair to add more ram to the xeon, for it might improve the benchmark scores and would also increase energy usage (which would be beneficial to the barcelona). Reply
  • Final Hamlet - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    Yuk!
    I really would like to see an explanation from an editor on this critique...
    Reply
  • Justin Case - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    Add the unusual choice of benchmark and fact that Harpertown isn't actually due to be launched until November, and I think this is one (more) article we can file under the "iNandtel" section.

    Speaking of that, anyone know what happened to GamePC's "Labs" section? Along with the Tech Report they were probably one of the last sites with a steady output of meaningful, objective reviews of PC hardware.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    IMPORTANT UPDATE INFORMATION:

    There was a typo/error in the original config. We apologize for the confusion - I should have verified with Jason/Ross earlier. The Opteron setup was running 8x1GB, not 8x2GB. Sorry to pop all the conspiracy theories (again), but the systems are a lot more similar than you would apparently like to believe.

    Note also the update at the end: 2.5GHz Barcelona is on its way and will be tested shortly. We'll see how that compares with the higher clocked Harpertown.
    Reply
  • Proteusza - Thursday, September 20, 2007 - link

    With the last Quad Core Comes to Play article, and now this, I've completely lost faith in Anandtech's benchmarks.

    These guys are too clever for them to make a mistake like that, and if they did I'm sure they would see the mistake and rebenchmark.

    No, I think these benchmarks were just paid for by Intel, in anticipation of its November launch to steal AMD's thunder. I'm not accusing the entire site of constant bias towards Intel, but rather a bias towards advertising. AMD has probably done the same thing in the past, and I'm sure Anandtech has been happy to oblige.
    Reply

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