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AMD Upgrades Hardware

AMD Details Upcoming Bulldozer Architecture 234

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the summon-bob-the-builder dept.
Vigile writes "AMD is taking the lid off quite a bit of information on its upcoming CPU architecture known as Bulldozer that is the first complete redesign over current processors. AMD's lineup has been relatively stagnant while Intel continued to innovate with Nehalem and Sandy Bridge (due late this year) and the Bulldozer refresh is badly needed to keep in step. The integrated north bridge, on-die memory controller and large shared L3 cache remain key components from the Athlon/Phenom generation to Bulldozer but AMD is adding features like dual-thread support per core (but with a unique implementation utilizing separate execution units for each thread), support for 256-bit SIMD operations (for upcoming AVX support) all running on GlobalFoundries 32nm SOI process technology."
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AMD Details Upcoming Bulldozer Architecture

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  • Re:Nobody cares. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @12:22PM (#33357800)

    And why, exactly, should/do we not care? This is akin to the announcement of i7 or Sandy Bridge. Maybe if you don't care you shouldn't be reading this story.

  • Mmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elsurexiste (1758620) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @12:27PM (#33357874) Journal
    Call me whatever you want, but the only reason AMD is still alive and well is because they've been innovating and building good products for a while now. Itanium, anyone?
  • AMD's stagnant? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamhassi (659463) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @12:27PM (#33357880) Journal
    "AMD's lineup has been relatively stagnant while Intel continued to innovate with Nehalem and Sandy Bridge (due late this year) and the Bulldozer refresh is badly needed to keep in step."

    AMD just came out with Six-Core processors for $200 [slashdot.org], how is that stagnant? Intel's only 6-core processor is still $1000 [google.com]
  • Re:AMD's stagnant? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrisexualPuppy (976893) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @12:32PM (#33357936)
    Likely another Intel fanboy trying to spread FUD about the company that he doesn't like and at the same time getting his username posted on the front page.

    AMD may not have the resources that Intel does, but it isn't as though Intel is walking AMD around on a leash. This mindset gets annoying after a while.
  • Re:Bulldozer? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sideslash (1865434) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @12:39PM (#33358068)
    I think people's mental impression will vary; yours is typical of an office worker. To someone employed in construction or agriculture, a bulldozer is a symbol of getting huge amounts of work done in a very short time. This reminds me of an ad I saw some years back for an "object oriented database", where they showed a photoshopped race car with a tractor on the back end. Their marketing message was "Why do you have a sluggish RDMS on your web app's back end?" I found it hilarious, because my reflexive response was to ask, "Why is that totally useless racecar pasted on the front of that excellent looking tractor, the kind of vehicle that is used to grow all the crops that feed the world?" :)
  • Re:AMD's stagnant? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cynyr (703126) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:01PM (#33358454)

    but not per $, which is the whole point. Sure i can build a screaming rig using a $1500 intel CPU, and a $400motherboard, and then toss in the ECC ram that board needs... and all of a sudden i could have bought a honda civic....

    Or i could get 80-90% of that same rig, in certain loads 120-150%, for $500 from AMD.

  • Re:AMD's stagnant? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h00manist (800926) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:02PM (#33358476) Journal
    Funny how so many people say competition is great, then turn around and start promoting the strategy of eliminating the competition, supporting whoever is "winning", etc.
  • Re:AMD's stagnant? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:30PM (#33358944)

    If you want fast graphics then you buy a discrete graphics card. If you're using integrated graphics you don't much care whether it's a crappy ATI chip or a crappy Intel chip because it won't run modern games at any reasonable speed either way.

    That's conventional wisdom, but conventional wisdom doesn't always hold steady in the computing market. 15 years ago what you said there was true for both audio chips and network cards. Anybody who wanted one that was half-way decent bought a discrete unit because those performed well, and the hokey versions that you might find integrated were pretty much junk.

    Today? All but a few holdouts and professional level users just use the integrated network and sound, because for your average user - even your average power user - the integrated stuff is plenty good enough.

    I'd wager that in less than 8 years your statement of "If you want fast graphics then you buy a discrete graphics card." will sound just as outdated and clueless as "If you want to crunch numbers faster than you buy a dedicated math co-processor.".

  • Re:Mmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash.p10link@net> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:32PM (#33358996) Homepage

    Itanium, anyone?
    Yes some time ago intel was screwing arround with itanium (which hardly anyone wanted because it ran x86 code so badly) and netburst (which was slower per clock than a P3) while AMD was pushing ahead with the hammer architecture.

    However since core 2 and especially with nahelm (where intel moved to a point-point architecture from a shared FSB architecture) intel has gradually regained the lead starting with the single sockets and gradually moving up to larger platforms. AMD is resorting to throwing cores at the problem in a desperate effort to make up for thier poor performance per core but the trouble is that typical desktop workloads can't really load up four cores, let alone six.

  • Re:Mmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MechaStreisand (585905) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:38PM (#33359082)
    Bullshit. The Itanium is slow as shit because Intel didn't bother to give it out-of-order execution like every other modern processor has. As a result, it is only fast on DSP-like operations and slow at everything else. Out-of-order execution is essential because the compiler can't know at compile time exactly where everything is going to stall: it's provably impossible.

    Remember, this is the same company that designed the P4 without a barrel shifter.
  • Re:Mmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imgod2u (812837) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:40PM (#33359110) Homepage

    There are plenty of things to learn from Itanium, specifically, what not to do if you want a good general purpose processor. For one, you don't make processor performance so incredibly reliant on instruction scheduling that the biggest compiler team on Earth (Intel's compiler group) couldn't make it run fast on anything except a small subsection of problems.

    Secondly, when attempting to gain ISA adoption, making it an exclusive ISA that only you have control and rights to use is a big no no. Sure, it'd be heaven for Intel to be the sole supplier.

    And lastly, process and iterations mean more for performance than any fancy ISA. Itanium is consistently one or two process generations behind its x86 counterparts and consistently one or two micro-architectural iterations slower (it takes 2 revisions of the Core micro-arch before Itanium comes out with one).

    You can have as clean and fancy of an ISA (which IA-64 was not, btw) as you'd like but implementation matters far far more.

    In the end, it wasn't fast enough (the best it ever did was match its x86 counterparts) and it didn't have any other advantages to warrant the switch.

    Now, ARM on the other hand....

  • Re:AMD's stagnant? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:47PM (#33359218)

    What are you talking about? Instructions per clock cycle doesn't mean threads per clock cycle. Even old AMDs had multiple instructions per clock cycle, but so what?

    Hyperthreaded core != 2 cores, *ever*. Hyperthreading is a way of trying to mitigate stalls. Nothing else.

  • Ghetto computer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mark72005 (1233572) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:55PM (#33359362)
    ...which is all that the 99% of people who would be classified as "ghetto users" need anyhow.
  • Re:Nobody cares. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:01PM (#33359462) Journal

    Well I personally care because it affects my prices and thus the prices I charge customers. After the Intel douchebaggery came out, along with the Nvidia bumpgate fiasco I switched all new builds to AMD exclusively. The bang for the buck is just incredible, with OEM triples for $60 and quads for $99, and their IGPs frankly kick the dog snot out of Intel, with them even able to run games like Bioshock acceptably.

    This new part is gonna be nice because it will allow for really nice SFF HTPCs, and with a Radeon onboard it will accelerate (I personally use Media Player Classic Home Cinema which works great with AMD GPUs) all the major video formats out there, thus taking the load off the CPU and allowing a nicer customer experience. I have found even the bottom of the line Athlon II duals thanks to the Radeon onboard give a really nice experience for the customer, and allows them to have all the Windows 7 Aero features without needing a discrete GPU. This will also be great for netbooks, although I haven't had any customer complaints from the new Amd Neo duals with Radeon onboard, this will lower power and thus lead to longer battery life.

    So yeah, there are some of us nerd that actually care about such things. I like the fact that with AM3 being backward compatible I was able to replace my 7550 dual for a 925 quad without having to trash the box and start over, or that pretty much any of the 125w motherboards can have a 6 core dropped right in. This new Bulldozer will allow for PCs which use less power, generate less heat, while still giving a good user experience and great bang for the buck. While TFA says Bobcat is more for the low power I bet I end up using Bulldozer more, as folks like having that extra performance and the AMD "drag and drop" video transcoder makes it easy for customers to convert videos for their portable devices.

    If you haven't checked out AMD in awhile you really should. Yes Intel has the absolute speed crown, but for everyday tasks and even heavy lifting like transcoding I've no complaints, and I certainly love having a fully loaded quad with 8Gb of RAM for under $650.

  • Re:Sweeeeet nectar (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nadaka (224565) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:06PM (#33359538)

    paying 1/3 as much for more than 1/3 the computing power is a viable strategy known as "value based judgment".

    At any given price point where there exists an AMD processor, there are few if any intel CPU's with equal or better performance.

    The i5 750 and i7 920 are among the very, very few intel chips that compete with AMD on value (performance / price).

  • Re:Sweeeeet nectar (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:08PM (#33359570)
    Benchmarks [tomshardware.com] certainly testify that the AMD 3.2 ghz hexacore is not three times slower than the Intel. At three times the price even twice as fast is a rip off, and Intel isn't even that far ahead.
  • Re:AMD's stagnant? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:11PM (#33359616)

    There's an infinite capacity to use floating point arithmatic too, but we abandoned the separate chip for it idea long ago. FPU's these days are still getting faster with each chip - no limit on processing power was hit. We simply got to a point where a completely capable FPU could be bundled in with the CPU and it's performance was sufficient for most users.

    Imagine this scenario: the integrated solutions don't suck. Instead of being virtually useless for 3D graphics, they have performance about equal to the mid-line $150 to $200-ish cards of today (and let that scale for whatever cards meet that definition of the time). You can get better performance, but it's going to take huge full-length cards running SLI or the like, and it's going to take several hundred dollars to beat your standard integrated solution.

    My wager is that 95% of the people who currently buy discrete chips would accept integrated at that point. The chips would still get faster over time, and there still might be a few extreme solutions available, but the average user wouldn't need them anymore. My guess is we'll get there quite soon. And if you're asking why the chip companies would want to sell us 1 chip where they previously sold 2? Simple answer: market competition. If AMD can push out a chip as fast or faster than Intels that also has an integrated GPU that rivals discrete solutions, then they'll take a lot of business from Intel. That's all the motive they need.

  • by imgod2u (812837) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:11PM (#33359618) Homepage

    I believe Bobcat's 2 FPU paths are 64-bits wide. For a total of 128-bits. It initially will not support the 256-bit AVX instructions that are coming with Sandy Bridge and Bulldozer.

    Its ALU's also appear to be significantly different than Bulldozer. With only one of the integer units can support multiplies and only two of them can support arithmetics. Two others (using a different scheduler) are load/store units. Bulldozer doubles the ALU resources (but not the number of schedulers) compared to Bobcat. So each scheduler has access to two AGU's, one ADD/DIV ALU and one ADD/Mult.

    I was never a big fan of the 3x symmetric ALU's in the Athlons. When it comes to integer intensive code, having a ton of independent ADDs or MULs that I'd need that kind of parallelism for was rare. And the latency (compared to a sane design like Core at least) were significantly higher due to the units being multi-purpose. In either case, with the introduction of SSE2, one could use SIMD if one had a throughput heavy workload anyway.

    Bobcat and Bulldozer appears to have moved in the right direction here. I really do like Bulldozer's approach to multi-core and think that with some extension, this could make into very interesting CPU/GPU hybrids as well. Although you could argue it's just another version of SMT similar to Hyperthreading, only with a wider back-end intended specifically for multi-threaded processes.

  • by BUL2294 (1081735) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:24PM (#33359866)
    Even Microsoft has thrown in the towel with IA-64 given the scalability of AMD64 (err, x86-64) in Xeon & Opteron processors. Windows Server 2008 R2 is the last version to support IA-64...

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/2008-IA.aspx [microsoft.com]
  • Re:AMD's stagnant? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imgod2u (812837) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:58PM (#33360388) Homepage

    No, what happened was that the most FP intensive tasks (rendering, 3D modeling for games) moved to another dedicated chip (the GPU). Bigger and better compute capacity there has not stopped being in demand ever since and shows no signs of slowing down.

    The only thing left that were really compute intensive on the CPU were things like video transcoding and precise (production quality) 3D rendering due to the lack of double-precision support in GPU's as well as the difficulty of using them for compute (i.e. writing back to memory) purposes. For the vast majority of common consumer tasks, there really wasn't much demand for ever beefier FPU's.

    Also, just as what may eventually be true for GPU's, there are advantages performance-wise of moving the FPU closer to the CPU. In the case of the FPU, it was much easier to tie in FP intensive tasks with control structures the CPU provided. I would suspect that in the case of the GPU, it will be removing the latency of the PCI bus and the need to copy memory between main and GPU memory, potentially allowing a lot more interaction between the physics and AI with the rendering process.

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