More Cores, but where's the Elegance?

Architecturally, the two individual die that make up Kentsfield are treated as one. This distinction matters especially when you look at power consumption of the new processor. In the event that only one of the two die is being used, the other cannot simply power down; instead it has to run at the same voltage and frequency of the other active die. Within each die, the two cores have to run at the same frequency and voltage as well, so there's not really much flexibility in operation. The end result is that while Kentsfield doesn't use too much more power than Conroe when running four CPU intensive threads simultaneously given the additional work it is doing, when only running two threads, Kentsfield is quite wasteful with its power consumption.

A more efficient solution would be to allow each core to operate at its own frequency, and an even better implementation would require independent power planes per core - allowing for different voltages depending on load. As simple as these two options are to write, they are unfortunately far more difficult to implement. AMD has already announced that its Barcelona quad-core CPUs will support independent clock speeds per core, but not independent voltages.

AMD's Barcelona core, due out in Q2 '07, will have support for independent clocks per core but all sharing the same voltage

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  • Sharky974 - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    Dudes, I remember reading, with detailed benchmarks from a site that specialized in HDD's, that raid array's for speed are COMPLETELY AND UNEQUIVICABLY USELESS.

    It bugs me too, because then as now, people just refuse to accept that fact, even with benchmarks proving it over and over staring them right in the face. RAID DOES NOT SPEED UP YOUR SYSTEM. PERIOD.

    If you want to use it for auto backup otoh, fine..
  • cjb110 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    One question I would like answered, would a quad core help with the gaming and background task usage? (i.e. IM, P2P etc etc) Is Windows intellegent enough to use those cores properly?

    Reason I ask is I'm planning to go from a 2 pc setup (1 gaming, 1 background tasks) to a single setup, and wondering if quad would be an even better solution for me?
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Probably not. While this sounds like a good idea, the main benefit in going dual-core is offloading 100% of those background tasts to the second core, so the game gets one core all to itself. Moving from two to four does almost nothing because there isn't anything else to unload. Now, in the future there will be more titles that will use 2 cores, so 4 core chips have their uses, but by then most readers of this site will have upgraded again anyways.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Depends on the background tasks. If you're running something in the background like media encoding, which can already easily use two cores, I would expect quad core to do better. If you're running BitTorrent plus media encoding plus a TV recording application, then I would expect even more benefit if you try to game. Of course, if you're doing all that, you better have a nice HDD configuration as well. RAID 0 with NCQ enabled should suffice.
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Ok, sure, but when most people ask this question they are talking about a game plus IM and anti-virus and maybe a Firefox window. Not all that many people play fullscreen games while encoding files and bittorrenting.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Right, in which case there's little difference, at least right now. When games start coming out that can use multiple cores (not just 2 or even 4), then it could become a lot more important. For now, dual cores is plenty for 99% of people.
  • shabby - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    I love it how steve jobs is pimping the intel chip now, before his ppc chips were oh so much faster then intel chips. What a two faced whore...
  • Donegrim - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    But before his ppc chips WERE more powerful than Intel ones. Before the core architecture came into being. Now the core is faster than the ppc, so he is using them. Makes sense really, I'm sure I'd do the same.
  • Griswold - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Nah, he was cursing the whole x86 architecture. By your logic, he could have went with AMD while Intel was touting their netburst furnaces.
  • peternelson - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    "4x4 is an entirely new platform using Socket-1207 (not AM2) CPUs. As much as AMD wants 4x4 to succeed, what we're really waiting for is Barcelona. "

    HAS AMD ANNOUNCED CLEARLY that 4x4 will be only 1207 and NOT AVAILABLE for AM2?

    In earlier announcements it looked like 4x4 would be AM2 (hence speculation about how it could dual socket without extra hypertransport links). PLEASE STATE IF AMD HAVE MADE AN UNAMBIGUOUS STATEMENT OR CLARIFICATION TO THIS EFFECT. Note 4x4 and the acceleration coprocessor tech are two different technologies and might be confused if they are in the same conference/press release or anandtech article.

    In any case AMD promised 4x4 during 2006, so we will know the answers real soon ;-)

    I think 4x4 will not be nice just for two dualcores, but for have TWO QUADCORES. Now depending on if those quadcores can be AM2 or 1207 or available for either, that will alter the price/performance of AMD's offering.

    However I am looking forward to an 8 core system from AMD.

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