Finally something new for the server team from AMD

Subject: General Tech, Processors | November 6, 2012 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: piledriver, opteron 6300, amd, Abu Dhabi

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Low power, high density server designs are very important but it is nice to see updates on the more powerful server processors as well, something quite rare so far in 2012.  AMD has finally released their Opteron 6300 family, with ten members bearing between 8 to 16 cores and all running at over 3GHz.  We don't have any reviews to offer, so the only performance benchmarks are from AMD's press releases, but you can expect more change than just an increase in frequency as this is a Piledriver based chip.  The Register has put together a high level overview of the new Opterons or you can head on over to AMD to check out the information on offer there.  Cray is already shipping servers based on these chips, with Dell and HP releasing a variety of servers in the near future.

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"Customers using big ol' fat x86 servers didn't have much to jump for joy about this year. There just isn't a lot going on. But to make things interesting, AMD is now goosing the performance of its top-end parts with the launch of its "Abu Dhabi" Opteron 6300s, which sport the "Piledriver" cores that already debuted in the FX Series of high-end desktop chips."

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Source: The Register

Come on AMD, spill the beans on Steamroller already

Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2012 - 11:58 AM |
Tagged: vishera, trinity, Steamroller, piledriver, hot chips, bulldozer, amd, Abu Dhabi

You've seen the slides everywhere and read through what Josh could observe and predict from those slides but at the end of Hot Chips will still know little more about the core everyone is waiting for.  The slides show a core little changed from Bulldozer, which is exactly what we've been expecting as AMD has always described Steamroller as a refined Bulldozer design, improving the existing architecture as opposed to a complete redesign.  SemiAccurate did pull out one little gem which might mean good news for both AMD and consumers which pertains to the high density libraries slide.  The 30% decrease in size and power consumption seems to have been implemented by simply using the high density libraries that AMD uses for GPUs.  As this library already exists, AMD didn't need to spend money to develop it, they essentially managed this 30% improvement with a button press, as SemiAccurate put it.  This could well mean that Steamroller will either come out at a comparatively low price or will give AMD higher profit margins ... or a mix of both.

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"With that in mind, the HDL slide was rather interesting. AMD is claiming that if you rebuild Bulldozer with an HDL library, the resulting chip has a 30% decrease in size and power use. To AMD at least, this is worth a full shrink, but we only buy that claim if it is 30% smaller and 30% less power hungry, not 30% in aggregate. That said, it is a massive gain with just a button press.

AMD should be applauded, or it would have been, but during the keynote, the one thing that kept going through my mind was, “Why didn’t they do this 5 years ago?”. If you can get 30% from changing out a library to the ones you build your GPUs with, didn’t someone test this out before you decided on layout tools?"

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Source: SemiAccurate
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

HotChips 2012

 

Ah, the end of August.  School is about to start.  American college football is about to get underway.  Hot Chips is now in full swing.  I guess the end of August caters to all sorts of people.  For the people who are most interested in Hot Chips, the amount of information on next generation CPU architectures is something to really look forward to.  AMD is taking this opportunity to give us a few tantalizing bits of information about their next generation Steamroller core which will be introduced with the codenamed “Kaveri” APU due out in 2013.

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AMD is seemingly on the brink of releasing the latest architectural update with Vishera.  This is a Piledriver+ based CPU that will find its way into AM3+ sockets.  On the server side it is expected that the Abu Dhabi processors will also be released in a late September timeframe.  Trinity was the first example of a Piledriver based product, and it showed markedly improved thermals as compared to previous Bulldozer based products, and featured a nice little bump in IPC in both single and multi-threaded applications.  Vishera and Abu Dhabi look to be Piledriver+, which essentially means that there are a few more tweaks in the design that *should* allow it to go faster per clock than Trinity.  There have been a few performance leaks so far, but nothing that has been concrete (or has shown final production-ready silicon).

Until that time when Vishera and its ilk are released, AMD is teasing us with some Steamroller information.  This presentation is featured at Hotchips today (August 28).  It is a very general overview of improvements, but very few details about how AMD is achieving increased performance with this next gen architecture are given.  So with that, I will dive into what information we have.

Click to read the entire article here.

AMD's server team is focusing on value now, performance in the future

Subject: General Tech | August 28, 2012 - 10:45 AM |
Tagged: virtualization, Seoul, seamicro, opteron, Delhi, amd, Abu Dhabi

AMD recently compared the cost per virtual machine of two eight-core 2.9GHz Xeon E5-2690 processors with 256GB in each node against servers with two 16-core 2.7GHz Opteron 6284SE and only 128GB per node.  Hyperthreading was enabled on the Intel machines so each box presented 64 threads to the VMmark test you can see below.   AMD is hoping to highlight the difference in pricing, while they may perform about 25% slower than an Intel based server, they cost 30% less to purchase, which in racks costing $10,000 or more will add up to some significant savings.  As well The Register talks about the future of AMD's servers, we know that the Abu Dhabi Opteron 6300s for two-socket and four-socket machines, the Seoul Opteron 4300s for two-socket and single-socket machines, and the Delhi Opteron 3300s for single-socket boxes will arrive staggered throughout this year and next, offering some new hope for AMD's processing power.  They also touch on Seamicro and the interconnect technology AMD purchased which could see next generation Opterons working with FirePro cards to really start to offer something new from AMD which could be a big jump in performance compared to their current server offerings.

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"It is not as much fun to be in the server part of Advanced Micro Devices these days, with Intel surging in the server racket and expanding out to switching and storage with its Xeon processors and Intel more or less counting the substantial innovations that AMD's engineers crafted for the Opterons a decade ago. The good news if you like a good fight is that there is a whole new management and engineering team at AMD now, and they not only understand that AMD has to do some serious innovating, but they are itching for the fight."

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Source: The Register
Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: AMD

Less Risk, Faster Product Development and Introduction

There have been quite a few articles lately about the upcoming Bulldozer refresh from AMD, but a lot of the information that they have posted is not new.  I have put together a few things that seem to have escaped a lot of these articles, and shine a light on what I consider the most important aspects of these upcoming releases.  The positive thing that most of these articles have achieved is increasing interest in AMD’s upcoming products, and what they might do for that company and the industry in general.

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The original FX-8150 hopefully will only be a slightly embarrasing memory for AMD come Q3/Q4 of this year.

The current Bulldozer architecture that powers the AMD FX series of processors is not exactly an optimal solution.  It works, and seems to do fine, but it does not surpass the performance of the previous generation Phenom II X6 series of chips in any meaningful way.  Let us not mention how it compares to Intel’s Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge products.  It is not that the design is inherently flawed or bad, but rather that it was a unique avenue of thought that was not completely optimized.  The train of thought is that AMD seems to have given up on the high single threaded performance that Intel has excelled at for some time.  Instead they are going for good single threaded performance, and outstanding multi-threaded performance.  To achieve this they had to rethink how to essentially make the processor as wide as possible, keep the die size and TDP down to reasonable sizes, and still achieve a decent amount of performance in single threaded applications.

Bulldozer was meant to address this idea, and its success is debatable.  The processor works, it shows up as an eight logical core processor, and it seems to scale well with multi-threading.  The problem, as stated before, is that it does not perform like a next generation part.  In fact, it is often compared to Intel’s Prescott, which was a larger chip on a smaller process than the previous Northwood processor, but did not outperform the earlier part in any meaningful way (except in heat production).  The difference between Intel and AMD in this aspect is that as compared to Prescott, Bulldozer as an entirely new architecture as compared to the Prescott/Northwood lineage.  AMD has radically changed the way it designs processors.  Taking some lessons from the graphics arm of the company and their successful Radeon brand, AMD is applying that train of thought to processors.

Continue reading our thoughts on AMD, Vishera, and Beyond!!

AMD drops a module and keeps its socket

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 09:36 AM |
Tagged: amd, piledriver, Seoul, Abu Dhabi, fad

One of the many interesting bits of information AMD disseminated at this years FAD started some conjecture about possible problems with Piledriver.  It seems that somewhere along the line AMD dropped a module on the Seou chip bringing its core count down from 10 to 8.  Once the hue and cry died down a bit a theory propounded by SemiAccurate offered a sensible theory for the change.  It seems likely that AMD initially developed this family of chips with the belief that DDR4 would have made it to market by now, perhaps in compensation for the delay in adopting DDR3.  Unfortunately DDR4 is nowhere to be seen outside of testing laboratories which has had an effect on AMD's development plans.  Without new memory there is no extra memory bandwidth which will in turn starve the extra cores on the chip and likely slow the performance of all of the cores.  Instead AMD opted to trim out the extra cores and as a benefit they get to utilize their existing sockets as opposed to introducing another one. 

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"A lot of people are in a tizzy because AMD (NYSE:AMD) has changed the upcoming Seoul CPU from 10 to 8 cores. The general responses ranges from AMD incompetence to apocalypse, but all it really signals is a lack of technical understanding on their behalf.

The slide in question was the server roadmap we wrote up here. It introduces Piledriver cored Abu Dhabi and Seoul chips, successors to the Bulldozer based Interlagos and Valencia respectively. The base part has 4 modules/8 cores, and the bigger variant is two of those in a package. The big controversy is that they were supposed to be 5 module/10 core parts."

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Source: SemiAccurate