In lifting the lid on the new "10h" architecture, which will power its upcoming Phenom and Barcelona quad-core chips, AMD is throwing down the gauntlet to Intel in the battle for processor supremacy.
To really understand where the quad-core competition stands, one must untangle the race to market from the debate over whose architecture is better. On the first score, Intel is clearly ahead. Intel already offers several quad-core desktop processors, as part of its Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Extreme families. On the server side, Intel currently ships no less than nine quad-core Xeon server chips.
(click image for larger view)
Phenom will be the official product name for AMD's Agena desktop quad core.
Intel detailed its other near-term plans at May 3 Spring Analyst Meeting. The chip giant's laundry list of planned introductions includes two new quads based on Intel's latest 45-nanometer chip technology: Yorkfield for desktops and Harpertown for servers. Both are due in the second half of this year.
AMD, behind in race to ship quads, trying to shift the discussion to which company is building a better processor. With Phenom, the just-announced product name for the desktop quads previously called Agena, and with Barcelona, the upcoming quad-core versions of the Opteron server chip, AMD thinks it does. Barcelona is expected to ship sometime this summer; Phenom will follow later this year.
Despite--or perhaps because of--the fact that Intel was the first to ship quads, AMD never hestitates to point out that its initial quad-core processors are fresh, from-the-ground-up designs. "Currently there is no manufacturer on the planet that has native quad-cores. Our competitors have dual, dual cores," is how Ian McNaughton, AMD's FX product manager, put it in a phone interview last month.
That dig refers to the fact that Intel's first-generation quads essentially place two dual-core processors side by side. Intel doesn't think this is an issue. As Intel CEO Paul Otellini put it at the Intel Developers Forum last September: "The initial ones are multi-chip, but so what?' You guys are misreading the market if you think people care what's in the package.''
(click image for larger view)
Block diagram of Barcelona, the upcoming quad-core Opteron.
Judging by past history, PC users are far more likely to care about processor performance than design issues which are difficult for non-electrical engineers to get much of a grasp on. Indeed, when dual-core processors debuted in 2005, a similar battle of marketing one-upmanship occurred. Then, AMD touted its Athlon 64 X2 processors as "true" dual cores, as compared to the bolted-together 800-series Pentium Ds.
However, the dual-core duel became, and remains a performance battle. AMD was widely perceived to have taken an initial lead. Intel was seen as recovering the advantage when its introduced its Core 2 Duo family in mid-2006.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security EnterpriseTo learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Infographic: The State of DevOps in 2017Is DevOps helping organizations reduce costs and time-to-market for software releases? What's getting in the way of DevOps adoption? Find out in this InformationWeek and Interop ITX infographic on the state of DevOps in 2017.
IT Strategies to Conquer the CloudChances are your organization is adopting cloud computing in one way or another -- or in multiple ways. Understanding the skills you need and how cloud affects IT operations and networking will help you adapt.