AMD's Barcelona: Why we haven't published benchmarks

A month ago we were able to present to you a rare look at AMD's forthcoming roadmap, detailing everything from new plans for the mobile space to giving a better idea of AMD's reasoning behind the ATI acquisition. We left that article with a positive and hopeful note for AMD:

"For a while we had lost confidence in AMD, like many of you had as well, and although AMD's position in the market hasn't changed we are more confident now that it can actually bounce back from this. Intel seemed to have the perfect roadmap with Conroe, Penryn and Nehalem all lined up back to back, and we saw little room for AMD to compete. Now, coming away from these meetings, we do believe that AMD may have a fighting chance. Over the coming months you'll begin to see why; it won't be an easy battle, but it will be one that will be fought with more than just price."

A strong roadmap alone does not make for a successful company; we need to see near term execution as well. For AMD, that means Barcelona has to be competitive. The interesting part of AMD's disclosures as of late is that as much information as AMD has given us about its roadmap for 2008, 2009 and beyond, we have little to no details about when we can expect Barcelona and how fast it will be.


When we headed out to Taiwan, a country of leaked processors and benchmarking opportunities, for Computex we surely expected to return with some Barcelona performance figures. We were hoping we'd come back with the very data that AMD hadn't allowed us to get ourselves when we visited the company over a month ago. And while there were some performance results reported from Taiwan, there was an eerie silence about AMD's updated micro-architecture.

We were determined not to leave the island without running at least one test on Barcelona. We worked long and hard, and we were finally able to spend some time alone with Barcelona in Taiwan. But the story doesn't end there; it's unfortunately not that simple.

Motherboard Problems

We know that Barcelona works and runs benchmarks, as we saw back at AMD in May. But the demos that AMD ran were on its own motherboards, not on motherboards from its partners. AMD's partners just recently received their first "production quality" Barcelona samples, and as expected, the current boards required some heavy BIOS work before the new chips would even work, much less perform up to the expectations set by AMD.

The motherboard we tested on had minimal HT functionality and wouldn't run at memory speeds faster than DDR2-667; most 3D video cards wouldn't even work in the motherboard. Memory performance was just atrocious on the system, but the motherboard manufacturers we worked with attributed this to BIOS tuning issues that should be fixed in the very near future.

In the end, performance was absolutely terrible. We're beginning to understand why AMD didn't let us test Barcelona last month. It's not that AMD is waiting to surprise Intel; it's that the platform just isn't ready for production yet.

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  • Kooky Krusher - Monday, June 11, 2007 - link

    Ok, so I started reading this article in hopes that there would be some glimmer of light for Barcelona, but I was saddened by the fact that there just isn't any...yet. I'm not big on placing myself in any one chip maker's camp, but man! AMD can't buy good PR right now. At least abit and shuttle made me smile. As an SFF builder and absolute NUT, I'm happy about any kind of matx/SFF news. Reply
  • erwos - Monday, June 11, 2007 - link

    I agree - I'm drooling at the idea of stashing one of those Hitachi combo drives into an SX38P3.

    Let us not even speak of the debacle that is Barcelona and the HD 2900XT. Just not AMD's year, it seems.
    Reply
  • Bjoern77 - Monday, June 11, 2007 - link

    right now i'm more worried about the lack of competition in the video card market. the r600 more or less failed to deliver, therefor nvidea keeps the price up. Especially the dx10 mid/lowrange price/performance sucks. Especially if you want to build a new pc now, cpu/memory/storage is so damn cheap, but a suitable gpu...ok, and than i can start to worry about BArcelona again, because if it fails cheap cpus will be history for a while. Reply
  • neweggster - Wednesday, June 13, 2007 - link

    True but look at it this way, by the time Dx10 becomes a major part of the gaming market share you will start to see an even battle between Nvidia and ATI. So for now any midrange card will suffice for Dx9 gaming, a 7600gt runs really great for the price right now for a midrange offering. Just because the GPU and memory gets faster doesn't mean the performance gap increases enough to make older models obsolete from being defined as midranged or whatever.

    You can still add 10 new models with all progressively increased performance and a older video card models will still be considered midranged. Take into consideration current game performance, across the board a 7600gt will still be midrange to me for years to come till we start seeing DX10 games dominating the market where the high end cards start to define the gap in performance vs models.
    Reply

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