AMD plays down performance at Barcelona launch

AMD has launched its quad-core “Barcelona” Opteron processors, with a distinct focus on performance-per-Watt rather than raw speed.

AMD plays down performance at Barcelona launch

Barcelona is the industry’s first native quad-core server CPU – a fact that the company has been keen to repeat in the light of Intel’s new quad-core Xeon MP processors, which use a package of two dual-core chips.

Read our technical lowdown on the new processors here

See the Barcelona launch timeline here

The irony of playing Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax was lost on many of the world’s media gathering in Barcelona for the launch. Chris Ingle from IDC kicked-off proceedings by stressing the importance of efficiency and green concerns in data-centre decision making, as well as speculating that server-based computing is due for a resurgence.

President and COO Dirk Meyer went on to stress AMD’s history of innovation on both consumer and business markets, before once again reminding us that this is the first native quad-core in the industry – an achievement that will remain unique until Intel launches its Penryn-based chips.

As expected, performance-per-Watt was stressed as a key metric, but then Meyer went even further by announcing that the company will cease using TDP (Thermal Design Power) as an indicator of power consumption.

While this figure will still be used for engineering the supporting circuitry, expect to see ACP (Average CPU Power) in future, taking, for example, the company’s 65W Opteron parts down to an ACP of 55W.

The new Opteron processors are based on a 65nm manufacturing process, but Meyer revealed that these will transition to 45mm next year, with a third-generation of the product to have a revised core (scalable to octuple-core) by 2009, which will also introduce some “exciting” new memory technologies.

Spokesmen from Dell and IBM were present to press home how excited they are about the new Opterons, with the former’s Eric Velfre saying he had to argue with Michael Dell himself for the honour of coming. It will be interesting to see if Dell himself makes it to Intel’s launch in Italy tomorrow – look out for our report from the scene.

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