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AMD Hardware Technology

AMD's Piledriver To Hit 4GHz+ With Resonant Clock Mesh 286

MojoKid writes about some interesting news from AMD. From the article: "Advanced Micro Devices plans to use resonant clock mesh (PDF) technology developed by Cyclos Semiconductor to push its Piledriver processor architecture to 4GHz and beyond, the company announced at the International Solid State Circuits Conferences (ISSCC) in San Francisco. Cyclos is the only supplier of resonant clock mesh IP, which AMD has licensed and implemented into its x86 Piledriver core for Opteron server processors and Accelerated Processing Units. Resonant clock mesh technology will not only lead to higher clocked processors, but also significant power savings. According to Cyclos, the new technology is capable of reducing power consumption by 10 percent or bumping up clockspeeds by 10 percent without altering the TDP." Unfortunately, aside from a fuzzy whitepaper, actual technical details are all behind IEEE and other paywalls with useless abstracts.
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AMD's Piledriver To Hit 4GHz+ With Resonant Clock Mesh

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  • vaporware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:53PM (#39179813) Journal

    it's all vaporware till they ship, and it works.
    if they pull it off though, might give Intel a run for their money again, it's about time!

  • Re:That's nice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:55PM (#39179841) Journal

    for a single executing thread of a specific bit width GHz means everything.
    The trick is can they scale it to multiple cores/threads, while lowering their power to match Intel's performance/Watt at the high end of the compute arena. If they can do that they will once again pull in DC customers.

  • Re:but really (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:06PM (#39179975)

    Man, I had to read that 4 times and I'm still not quite exactly sure what you're saying.

    Let me give it a stab.

    Unless it can provide competition for Intel's CPUs at the same price level, and not use a ton more power to do it (as they have been doing recently), I don't think there is any point in caring.

    Communication isn't just about belching words, but actually putting them down so people can understand them.

  • details? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:11PM (#39180021)

    Unfortunately, aside from a fuzzy whitepaper, actual technical details are all behind IEEE and other paywalls with useless abstracts.

    So why post an article that contains no meaningful information?

    Oh wait . . . never mind. I forgot where I was.

  • Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:18PM (#39180093)

    Intel is already running at 4GHz+. Ok not officially, but it is almost impossible to find a Sandy Bridge K series that won't easily overclock to 4Ghz or more. I bumped my 2600k to 4GHz. No voltage increase, no messing around, just turned the multiplier up. Zero stability issues, doesn't even draw a ton more power. Basically they are just being conservative for thermal reasons.

    The 22nm Ivy Bridge is soon to launch as well. Never mind any potential better OCing, it is faster per clock than SB. Well SB is a good bit faster than Bulldozer (who's architecture Piledriver uses) per clock, sometimes more than a bit (depends on what you are doing).

    So no, they'd need way more speed to give Intel any kind of run for their money, unfortunately. What they really need is a better design, something that does better per clock, but of course new designs take a long time and BD itself was quite delayed.

    Remember the one and only time AMD did eclipse Intel was during Intel's P4 phase. Intel had decided to go for low work per clock, high clock speed. Well speeds didn't scale as they'd hoped and the P4 was not as powerful for it. AMD chips were tops. However the Core architecture turned all that around. It was very efficient per clock, and each generation just gets better. Meanwhile AMD stagnated on new architectures, and then released Bulldozer which is not that great.

    Also they have to fight the losing fab battle. They spun off their fabs and as such aren't investing tons of R&D in it. Well Intel is, and thus are nearly a node ahead of everyone else. Other companies are just in the last few months getting their 32nm node and 28nm half-node production lines rolling out products to retail channels. Intel has their 22nm node process complete and is fabbing chips for retail release in a couple months. So they've got that over AMD, until other fabs catch up, by which time Intel will probably have their 14nm half-node process online in Chandler (the plant construction is in full swing).

    Sadly, things are just not good in the x86 competition arena. AMD competes only in a few markets, and Intel seems to edge in more and more. Servers with lots of cores for reasonable prices seems to be the last place they really have an edge, and that is a small market.

    I don't want to see a one player game, but AMD has to step it up and this unfortunately is probably not it. If they make it work, expect Intel to just release faster Core i chips with higher TDP specs. The massive OCing success shows they could do so with no problem.

  • Re:Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:32PM (#39180245) Journal

    I'm a diehard Intel Fanboi. My last AMD was an 80286, I owned an AMD80386DX40, but never used it (acquired it at a swap meet after the P60's had just launched).
    Prescott had a use case where it outperformed AMD, but it was very narrow, if your load was highly predictive and did not cause cache misses or branch prediction failures, it owned the AMD. Sadly every workload except straight up numerical number crunching was not so good. I used my 3.6GHz P4 for transscoding video. It was the first machine that I owned where I could encode faster than real time (i.e. movie is 60 min, I could encode in 50).

    I really hope this pans out for AMD and brings them a little up into Intel's game. While as you said there has only been one time where AMD flat out bested Intel, there have been several cases where AMD has nailed a particular segment:
    * Low cost many cores (data compute clusters).
    * Low cost reasonable performance for most end user loads.
    * Downright cheap CPU for entry machines.
    Every time they've done something they have forced Intel to step up to that segment and improve.
    In this case I hope to see not the high spec CPU improvement, but rather the mid-range CPU segment get a very low power option. Somewhere in the i5 equivalent range, but giving desktop performance while sipping mobile levels of power.
    It would make building a poor man's compute cluster more feasible from a power and cooling standpoint.

  • Re:vaporware (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:35PM (#39180281)

    The only workstation class machine with which I have been completely happy is powered by an AMD 4 way Phenom II. Quiet, powerful, cheap, pick all three. And looking around, I would say that its successor is highly likely to be an AMD 6 way, 45 nm process chip. Best value by far for my money.

    Today I can choose slightly less latency with Intel or significantly more value with AMD. Call me cheap, but I will take the value, thank you.

  • Re:That's nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:39PM (#39180317)

    Single core performance is all that matters when processing a toolpath for CNC machining.

    Rubbish. There is no way your CNC machining app will even get close to the minimum latency that a single AMD core is capable of. What you are really saying is that your vendor is slow to get a clue about parallel programming.


  • awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smash ( 1351 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:40PM (#39180347) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it will catch up to the Sandy Bridge Core i5 now?
  • Re:Not really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Intropy ( 2009018 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:51PM (#39180445)

    It's not true that the AMD lead was that short. The Athlon came out and was immediately on par with or better than Intel's Pentium IIIs. By the time it was thunderbird vs coppermine/tualatin the lead was pretty sizable. That lasted throughout the Athlon64/Pentium 4 period and into the Core's run until the Core 2 duos arrived. The gap was close for a while with Inte's multi-core processors generally superior, but as little as about a year and a half ago, AMD had the better offering in the X3 than Intel's Core i3. Competition is tight, which has been good for the rest of us.

  • Re:vaporware (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:25PM (#39180815)

    If you add up the user-affecting latency over the lifetime of the processor, and multiply by your hourly rate, you would have to be a fairly lowly serf to not pay for it several times over.

    Oh indeed, they pay me peanuts. I should send somebody an email.

    Or maybe I should just be thankful that today I have a supercomputer[1] class computer under my desk for which I paid peanuts.

    [1] As of not very long ago at all.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:38PM (#39180929)

    ... inside the processor? Sounds like the end of overclocking.

  • Re:vaporware (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Johann Lau ( 1040920 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:49PM (#39181039) Homepage Journal

    Nah, it just makes you a tool. You're too stupid to be considered a villain, sorry.

  • by Gordo_1 ( 256312 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:00PM (#39181125)

    and has been for at least 5 years. A theoretical 10% performance boost? Gimme a break. I upgraded from a Core2Duo E6600 @ 2.4GHz to a quad core i5 2600k which runs at an overclocked 4.5GHz on air... Day to day, the new rig delivers a *mostly* perceptible performance advantage, but nothing earth shattering... I give you several recent changes that felt bigger:

    1. Moving from hard drive to SSD
    2. Moving from a DirectX9 class GPU to a DirectX 11 GPU (at least in games).
    3. Move from pre-JIT JS browser engine to a JIT-engined browser.

    As far as desktop CPU development goes, I think the future is largely about optimizing software for the multi-core architectures, not adding Gigahertz.

  • Re:vaporware (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:57PM (#39181541)

    99.99% of users don't work in parallel programming.

panic: kernel trap (ignored)