back to article AMD: We're not dead yet

AMD executives have tried to assure the world that the company's future is sunny, despite a few gray clouds of late, presenting the first ever benchmarks for its highly anticipated Barcelona chip, announcing plans for two new core designs, and saying that next-generation manufacturing technologies are proceeding on schedule. At …

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So everything is just hunky-dory, eh?

Hmmm.... Whilst I seriously hope AMD get back in shape, I fear it might not be as easy as the article makes it sound.

Still.... I'll be keeping an eye out for new AMD chips in August!

Here's hoping!

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SPEC Numbers

I just checked the latest published SPEC Rate figures for multiprocessors, and found the following 4-processor results:

AMD Opteron 3.0 GHz: Int = 50.3, FP = 48.6 (16.2/GHz)

Intel Xenon 3.0 GHz: Int = 55.4, FP = 42.9 (14.3/GHz)

According to AMD's Mr. Allen, the 2.0 GHz Barcelona gets an FP score of 69.5. That's 34.8/GHz, double the rate of a pair of current 2-core Opterons. Putting all 4 cores on the same die, adding some cache and some other tweaks should improve the rate, but 100% doesn't seem credible.

On the other hand, being in the proximity of a Barcelona caused a 2.33 Xenon to get an FP score of 54 (23.2/GHz). Maybe AMD has perfected its own Benchmark Distortion Field (tm).

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Anonymous Coward

The numbers game

Isn't all this by and large irrelevant? Does it REALLY matter if my processor runs 9.6GHz faster? The difference to 99.99% of applications is unnoticeable and for what I do, probably never. What concerns me more is stability and accuracy, less heat generation, less power consumption and a processor that doesn't go out of date for years to come.

Anyone who says they need a super processor should look at the efficiency of the software (bloatware) they are running. Try ditching Windoze for a start. And as nobody has brought out new ground-breaking development tools for years, can we assume that the current generation of compiler cores are at least 15 years old with a load of "user-friendliness" built on top? How many developers can truly say with hand on heart, that they optimise their code and use code optimizers before unleashing their wares? I know we don't and none of the organisations I have worked for do either (due to time pressures) and I would imagine that the developers at M'soft are exactly like the rest of us and trust the compiler to do it for us. Ha ha!

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Numbers game

RE: Numbers game

Nope, doesn't matter at all to most consumers. Desktop software is getting bloatier in the face of faster CPUs for the simple reason that they can; a desktop computer is meant to do the same thing now that it was meant to do 10 years ago, so having a 100x faster CPU doesn't offer anything except for eye candy and the cheaper software development that produces a lot of bloat.

However, Opterons and Xeons aren't general consumer products at all. These are for servers, workstations, HPC applications, so the extra speed is welcome.

Gamers also happen to like fast computers.

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RE: Spec numbers

I really don't think you understand any of the numbers you're looking at.

First off, (I can't believe I'm having to explain this to somebody), clock speeds don't mean anything between brands. Period. I have a 400mhz MIPS R12000 workstation that renders 80% faster than my 466mhz G3 (IBM 750).

That is perfectly, completely normal. Clock speed simply does not translate to performance once you're comparing unrelated chips.

The other thing is that you ~are~ looking at different chips even though the brand name is the same. The article talks about the new 'Barcelona' AMD processor and the 'Core' architecture based Xeon.

The chips you're talking about are the older 'P68' architecture Xeon, and the pre-Barcelona Opteron. There is a huge, huge difference.

There is no distortion field here, just a lack of context sprinkled with ignorance.

For future reference, don't ever bother using clock speed as a performance metric unless you're comparing a chip to itself, like when overclocking.

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RE: The numbers game

"and a processor that doesn't go out of date for years to come."

You want the industry to come to a standstill for you for years so you aren't left behind?

"The difference to 99.99% of applications is unnoticeable and for what I do, probably never"

A better performing CPU cam make the world of difference in an immeasurable amount of casses, though if it will probably never be noticeable to you why pay any attention to CPU news in the first place.

I hate it when people pull numbers out of orifices to try make the garbage they're spewing out seem justified or as facts.

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Re: Spec Numbers

> I really don't think you understand any of the numbers you're looking at.

I don't think you read my post carefully.

> First off, (I can't believe I'm having to explain this to somebody), clock speeds don't mean anything between brands. Period. I have a 400mhz MIPS R12000 workstation that renders 80% faster than my 466mhz G3 (IBM 750).

I agree. I wasn't comparing clockspeeds between brands.

> That is perfectly, completely normal. Clock speed simply does not translate to performance once you're comparing unrelated chips.

True when the chips are *unrelated*. In this case, the Barcelona core is closely related to the Opteron's K8 -- see an excellent analysis at realworldtech. The Xeons cited are *the same chip* at slightly different clockspeeds. I neglected to mention the Xenon part numbers, but they're all Core 2 series. I will be the first to say that Intel naming and numbering scheme doesn't make this obvious.

> The other thing is that you ~are~ looking at different chips even though the brand name is the same. The article talks about the new 'Barcelona' AMD processor and the 'Core' architecture based Xeon.

Partially agree. Barcelona is new(ish). To be pendantic, the current Xeons are all Core 2 (I think they finally killed the last of the P4s). Intel did release a very low power "Core" (Yonah-based) Xeon for blades a while back. I don't know if they still sell it.

> The chips you're talking about are the older 'P68' architecture Xeon, and the pre-Barcelona Opteron. There is a huge, huge difference.

Yes, there is a huge difference between the 'P68' Xeon and the Opteron. However, I was talking about the current Core 2 microarchitecture Xeon.

> There is no distortion field here, just a lack of context sprinkled with ignorance.

Perhaps there is lack of context, so let me explain it (Reg editors willing):

If you take a SPEC figure like SPECfp_rate2006 and divide by clock speed, the result is proportional to clocks-per instruction (CPI). The figure is fairly constant across a range of clockspeeds for a given microarchitecture. If you don't believe me, go to the SPEC website and do the calculations yourself. There will also be variations due to compilers and motherboards, but the number is fairly constant. I agree completely that the figure can be wildly different for different microarchtectures, even for the same ISA: P4 vs Core 2 being one example.

My point was that AMD is claiming a 100% increase in CPI for Barcelona, and somehow, running a standard benchmark, they also got a large improvement on the *same* Xeons differing only in the speed bin. SPEC is designed to generate reproduceable results (okay, with a bit of slop). When AMD's numbers are so far off for the Xeon, one has to wonder what else is wrong. Hence the Benchmark Distortion Field, and damage to AMD's credibility.

> For future reference, don't ever bother using clock speed as a performance metric unless you're comparing a chip to itself, like when overclocking.

... or when comparing different speed bins of the same part.

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Re: SPEC Numbers

The increase in performance actually makes sence. AMD has been saying forever that the Barcelona will get 180% the floating point performance of the previous cores (measured per ghz per core.)

They doubled the width of FPU and a few other things, seems that they might just have nearly doubled performance.

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Aye

Sorry, I thought you were talking about the older Xeon with that example cause of the clock rate.

I didn't realize they have a Core Xeon at 3.0ghz already... Yeah I need to read the news more...

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