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AMD Hardware

45nm Opteron Performance, Power Efficiency Tested 129

An anonymous reader writes "Now that Intel has unleashed its next-generation Core i7 processors, all eyes are turned to AMD and its incoming wave of 45nm CPUs. To get a feel for AMD's future competitiveness, The Tech Report has taken a pair of 2.7GHz 45nm Opterons (with 75W power envelopes) and put them through the paces against Intel Xeons and older, 65nm Opterons in an extensive suite of performance and power efficiency tests — from Cinema 4D and SPECjbb to computational fluid dynamics and a custom XML handling benchmark. The verdict: AMD's new 45nm quad-core design is a notable improvement over the 65nm iteration, and it proves to be a remarkably power-efficient competitor to Intel's Xeons. However, 45nm AMD chips likely don't have what it takes to best Intel's Core i7 and future Nehalem-based Xeons."
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45nm Opteron Performance, Power Efficiency Tested

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  • AMD had it going (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bb84 ( 1301363 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @04:30AM (#25956843)
    ...but have since really lost momentum and competitiveness. They truly awakened the sleeping giant when they were kicking Intel's ass a few years ago.
  • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @04:31AM (#25956845) Homepage

    I'm not wise to all the marketing names that chip vendors use these days: will this 'Opteron' chip be priced competitively as an alternative to the Core i7, or will it just be an expensive server processor? I know that having the fastest top-end chip has a halo effect on the rest of the range but with Intel's mid-range processors being good and cheap, that's where AMD most needs to make an improvement.

  • by bb84 ( 1301363 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @05:42AM (#25957143)
    and out of all computer owners in the world, how many of them have supercomputers? Right now, in the consumer level most people consider Intel's stuff better. No bias here, but just looking at specs and performance, Intel currently sells the best goods. That's exactly what I meant--they awoke the sleeping giant. Intel has more experience, money, employees, and resources. No, that doesn't mean they have to have the best products. However, when you take all that and combine a damaged ego when AMD first whooped 'em, they pooled their talent, money, and everything else and slammed back. I interned at Intel's fab20 in 2006. People talked about AMD and how Intel really needed to make a comeback. My impression was that they were not very amused at the ratings then, and ever since the Core 2 Duos general user preference is swinging back in their direction because they started delivering a much superior product. AMD needs to get their act together if they want to hold out against Intel in the long run.
  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @06:15AM (#25957279) Homepage

    But ... if they're cheaper than Intel then why do they need to be faster?

    PS: These days power efficiency is almost as important as speed.

  • It's a shame, too (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kmike ( 31752 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @06:28AM (#25957331)

    I find it disappointing that the test of the supposed server-oriented processors does not include web server tests - after all it's probably the largest market for such processors.

    I mean, does anyone really care about Folding@Home number these processors can crunch? Or "VRAD map build benchmark"? WTF?

  • by LordMyren ( 15499 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @06:31AM (#25957351) Homepage

    You're perspective's demented, because you think cpu performance still matters for end users. Cpu performance has always been a rat race; the difference is that its fast enough now.

    Its not the numbers of computers or supercomputers you should be counting, its the number of cores. Google runs data centers with >50,000 computers; they're working on data center #20 in the states now. Yahoo, Microsoft, Sun, Ibm, Ebay, Amazon, Pixar... they all need these colossal systems to support their business. These are huge volume sales. Ask how much CPU any of these companies wants and they'll ask how much you can give them.

    The desktop on the other hand is growingly irrelevant. The square-mm of the average desktop cpu are going to shrink considerably; Atom is Intel trying to cut room for x86 in clothes of devices of a much smaller size. Consumers wont need the 6 core or 12 core cpus AMD's putting out next; most can barely use the dual core they have now. In another decade I am 100% certain most desktops will have been subsumed into phones; phones with bluetooth keyboards and some hdmi-analog. Frame buffer limitations aside, we're almost at that power level already.

    In the workplace, virtualization and increasing computing power will probably lead to thin clients again. Why give everyone a $900 workstation when $250 terminals and a couple heavily virtualized servers are easier to maintain?

    What me and my grandparent are saying is, if you want to build big fast machines, you need someone who has a use for those super machines. And frankly I dont see any commitment aside from dedicated gamers and the businesses for whom computing is life.

  • by GNUPublicLicense ( 1242094 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @06:41AM (#25957389)
    Again, I wonder if the benchmarks used AMD optimized code (they have to use the proper GCC backend). It seems that most of the time, the benchmarks for non-Intel processors are based on Intel optimized code. I have never seen mentionned in the benchmarks if the tools were using the best machine code for the targetted processor... yeah... that smells bad.
  • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @07:36AM (#25957679)

    What scares me is that AMD might decline into a purely budget CPU house like Cyrix did and then leave the market together.

    Now think back to the Itanium fiasco. If AMD hadn't have been around or hadn't been making high end chips Intel could have made the high end IA64 and gradually migrate the whole market to it. So now we'd be running underpowered and overpriced IA64 chips. In a sense the thing that prevented that was that chips were dual sourced so Intel couldn't force a transition to an inferior successor like Microsoft did with XP to Vista. And IA64 was likely so patented that no one else would be ever be able to make compatible chips.

    Of course with AMD around Intel was forced to adopt x64 and produce the excellent Core, Core2 and now Core i7 microarchitectures and do it very quickly. Just imagine what would have happened if they hadn't been. Recently I've heard AMD they will go fabless for example. TSMC and other commodity fabs don't have technology to match Intel, so AMD will lag behind. For low end stuff it doesn't matter much, but it really does for the high end. Mind you Intel is kicking ass in the netbook market too. It really makes you wonder how long AMD will be around. And if AMD go under so would ATI since they bought it. I actually prefer Intel and NVidia in this generation but I'm not sure they would be much good if there was no competition.

    Not a very comforting thought is it?

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @08:17AM (#25957897) Journal

    Power and PowerPC is doing great. XBox360, PS3, Wii, Toshiba TVs, supercomputers, set top boxes, ...

    Just because it isn't doing well in the desktop PC market doesn't mean it is losing its momentum.

  • by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @08:45AM (#25958053)

    It probably doesn't help that the Megahertz race is no longer relevant, and savvy customers can no longer divide the MHz by the price, and find out which system gives you the most e-penis for your buck. Customers no longer have a clue, so everyone just shrugs and goes with the biggest brand name.

  • by smallfries ( 601545 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @09:11AM (#25958211) Homepage

    There is a very simple reason that the Top500 is full of Opteron systems. Until the i7 Intel did not have an integrated memory controller. Although the Core2 does more work per cycle, at lower power, and with better caching - there is a measurable difference in large memory bound workloads. The other factors were enough to make them faster on the desktop, but the lack of integrated memory controller was killing them in large-scale systems.

    The i7 continues the advantages that Core2 had over the Opteron range, but adds that missing memory controller. It's not clear yet if it is good enough. The memory subsystem graphs in the article are interesting. Intel still has a faster, larger cache, but may lack raw bandwidth to main memory.

    I'm not going to disagree with your comments on the impending death of the desktop (or agree with them either). But I will point out that people have been making exactly the same comments and predictions for 20 years. We still have desktop computers.

  • by Enter the Shoggoth ( 1362079 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @09:58AM (#25958623)

    Absolutely, I was happy to support the underdog until I was the beneficiary of a '939 shafting; AMD promised AMD-V support on Socket 939 and then pulled it, and although not AMD's fault (I'm looking at you nVidia & ASUS) the chipset/motherboard performance, driver support and hardware reliability left me with a very sour taste.

    Now that there is no longer any viable non-x86 solution, I've gone intel 100%. not just the CPU but I'll now only buy Intel motherboards, turns out they are _very_ reliable, stable, and the BIOS and drivers are QA'd properly. Who would've thunk it?

  • by lawaetf1 ( 613291 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @10:40AM (#25959171)

    The biggest thing keeping AMD down in the mobile world is the systems.

    Speaking beyond just the mobile market, it's important to keep in mind that Intel is facing anti-trust suits around the world. And has already been found guilty in S. Korea with Europe getting increasingly annoyed at their delays. If the accusations are true, Intel's unlimited R&D budget is ill-gotten via illegal, exclusory business practices.

    Frankly I'm all but blown away at how a company with a smaller market cap than either NVIDIA or Intel can continue to compete and sometimes win.

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