AMD Promises Rapid Ramp Of Barcelona Clock Speed To 2.3 GHz - InformationWeek
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8/29/2007
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Alexander Wolfe
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AMD Promises Rapid Ramp Of Barcelona Clock Speed To 2.3 GHz

There's been lots of chatter lately about problems AMD has had on the road to Barcelona, the quad-core processor it'll launch with great fanfare on Sept. 10. (That date ensures the story will have only a single day of prominence.) After talking to AMD, I've got some important news about Barcelona's clock speed.

There's been lots of chatter lately about problems AMD has had on the road to Barcelona, the quad-core processor it'll launch with great fanfare on Sept. 10. (That date ensures the story will have only a single day of prominence.) After talking to AMD, I've got some important news about Barcelona's clock speed.For anxious reader who don't want to wait til the bottom of this post, the big news is that Barcelona will launch at 2.0-GHz on Sept. 10, but the clock speed will ramp up rapidly and 2.3-GHz versions will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

Barcelona is hugely important for AMD because it will finally give the scrappy semiconductor maker a quad-core Opteron with which it can compete against Intel's quad Xeons.

The clock-speed news is especially important for AMD because it'll help the company overcome the bad rap on Barcelona that's been floating around the blogosphere since earlier this summer. That's when word began leaking that the chip wouldn't launch at a clock speed of greater than 2.0 GHz. An early demo of a 1.6-GHz Barcelona added fuel to the "slow" clock fire.

Given that Intel already has quad Xeons running at 3.0 GHz, that news put AMD at a public-relations disadvantage, if not a real technical one as well. (AMD and Intel benchmark their architectures in different ways, and in any case, their respective architectures are different, so clock speeds are not directly comparable. AMD's clock numbers have always been somewhat lower. Still.)

I sat down last Friday with Randy Allen, vice president of AMD's server and workstation division.

Randy confirmed that AMD's clock-speed plans for Barcelona are more aggressive than was heretofore expected. Here's the deal: There will be three power bands for Barcelona; that is, there will three different lines, each with a different power-dissipation figure.

The low-power line will be called HE, for Highly Efficient. It'll have a thermal design envelop of 68 W. The Standard Performance (SP) line will come in at 95 W. The third line, called SE for Special Edition, is really the higher powered 120W family.

(By way of comparison, Intel's quad-core Xeons variously have TDPs of 50W, 80W, 95W, 105W, and 120W.)

Here's the important Barcelona launch information:

  • The SP (95W) Barcelona processors will launch on Sept. 10 at 2.0-GHz. They'll be released in high clock-speed versions in the fourth quarter of this year.

  • The 68-W, low power HE Barcelonas will launch on Sept. 10 at 1.9-GHz. They'll also ramp to high speed in Q4.

  • The 120-W SE Barcelonas won't launch until the fourth quarter, but when they do, they'll ship at speeds of 2.3-GHz and higher.

    Here's a previously embargoed slide:



    There will be three power bands for Barcelona: HE at 68 W , SP at 95 W, and SE at 120W. (Click picture to enlarge.)

    Read more about the 10h architecture debuting in Barcelona and in AMD's upcoming desktop quad, in Inside AMD's Phenom And Opteron Quad-Core Architectures.

    Here's a die shot identifying the different on-chip operational blocks:



    This die shot identifies the different functional units of Barcelona, AMD's upcoming quad-core Opteron. (Click picture to enlarge.)

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