Three years ago AMD told me about two architectures that would be the future of the company: Bobcat and Bulldozer. Here are some excerpts from an article I wrote after that meeting with AMD.

“Due out in the first half of 2009, AMD's Bulldozer core is the true revolutionary successor to the K8 architecture. While Barcelona and Shanghai are both evolutionary improvements to the current core, Bulldozer is the first ground-up redesign since the K7.”

“If Bulldozer is the architecture that will compete with Nehalem, Bobcat is what will compete with Silverthorne. Bobcat is yet another ground up design from AMD, also due out in the 2009 timeframe, but it will address a more power constrained portion of the market. Systems that require a 1 - 10W TDP will use Bobcat, while Bulldozer is limited to the 10 - 100W range (obviously with some overlap between the two). “

Well, 2009 didn’t happen. Nor will 2010. Bobcat is the closest with production in Q4 2010 and system availability in Q1 2011. Bulldozer is strictly 2011. The long road to a major redesign isn’t unusual and although we’re no where near the point of measuring performance of these parts, we’re getting closer.

AMD has Bobcat and Bulldozer silicon back in its labs and things apparently look good. Later today at Hot Chips 22, AMD will present further details on both of its next generation architectures. What we have here now is a sneak peak of what AMD is going to unveil at the conference later today.

The Three Chip Roadmap

While AMD is committed to a two architecture roadmap going forward (Bobcat and Bulldozer) we’ll see three fairly different chips addressing the various market segments in 2011.

Bobcat will do low end/low power (think netbooks and nettops), Llano will do mainstream notebooks (e.g. MacBook, HP Envy equivalent) and Bulldozer will be used for high end desktops and servers. Llano actually uses a Phenom II derived core so it’s technically a third architecture but I’d expect its market to eventually be split between Bobcat and Bulldozer based designs.

I’m going to start with Bobcat first as it’s the closest to production.

It’s an Out of Order Atom
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  • ROad86 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    I think without being a pc expert that amd was trying to maximaze the multi-thread perfomance in less die size and being more efficient at power consumption. But i believe that they are still developing Bulldozer in order to maximaze single thread perfomance too. In desktop not much applications are threaded well in enough so they have to be competive in single thread perfomance too. Thats why I believe they dont announce release date yet. Among side the new manufactaring procces at 32 nm and I think the waiting for the release of sandy-bridge in order to see how better are intel new processors, the release date will be probably Q4 2011. But these are just speculations. Reply
  • Vallwesture - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    It has been over two years... Reply
  • ROad86 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    New architecture, completly new design, maybe softaware too needs too be optimazed(windows 7 for example), in the end lets hope to bring something truly amazing. On paper it does but lets wait for reviews! Reply
  • KonradK - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    "The basic building block is the Bulldozer module. AMD calls this a dual-core module because it has two independent integer cores and a single shared floating point core that can service instructions from two independent threads"

    I'm curious whether CPU shedulers can distinguish between cores located in the same module from cores located in other modules of Bulldozer .
    Because two cores located in the same module share one FPU unit , running two FPU heavy threads on two cores located in the same module and leaving cores in other modules idle would be at least unoptimal.
    Reply
  • Simen1 - Tuesday, August 31, 2010 - link

    From page 6: "Aggressive prefetching usually means there’s a good amount of memory bandwidth available so I’m wondering if we’ll see Bulldozer adopt a 3 - 4 channel DDR3 memory controller in high end configurations similar to what we have today with Gulftown."

    AMD already have a 4 channel DDR3 design. Its in the Opteron 6100-line of processors on the G34 socket (LGA1974). AMD have promised it will be compatible with future bulldozer-based processors.
    Reply
  • liem107 - Monday, September 06, 2010 - link

    I wonder how bobcat would fare against the VIA Nano. Considering VIA s portfolio, it would be a good aquisition for Nvidia for example to get their hands on a fairly good x86 core and license. Reply

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