AMD’s new micro-architecture was officially launched today and at no surprise to anyone who contributes to this blog, Barcelona is dead on arrival. Doubters like ourselves were told to wait for this day. Sept 10, 2007 was supposed to be the day AMD takes back the performance crown to the rejoicing of its followers. But yet again, AMD disappoints. The promise of a 40% performance lead at the beginning of the year was cunningly and gradually reduced to a trivial performance-per-watt advantage. An advantage that current K8’s probably already had but nonetheless insignificant to prevent AMD’s market share erosion.
To AMD's credit, the improved IPC that Barcelona brings with it is quite noticeable. Whereas in the past the K8’s were severely lagging both in clock speed and in IPC. But with Barcelona the gap narrows down to raw clock speed. Like we mentioned several months ago, GHz is once again King and AMD’s clock frequency problems aren’t quite easy to overcome. Anyone speculating that AMD can ramp its 65nm SOI to 3GHz by Q1’08 is only preparing for another public humiliation. For a number of reasons; Barcelona’s already high thermal dissipation at 2GHz, its poor 65nm SOI process and the very large die, all create an insurmountable barrier that AMD can never overcome. You should notice how Barcelona is debuting with a very low clock frequency with an already high 2.6Ghz original power draw.
Note: Sample benchmark from TechReport and may not be representative of the entire comparison.
“Nonetheless, AMD now faces some harsh realities. For one, it is not going to capture the overall performance lead from Intel soon, not even in "Q4," which is when higher-clocked parts like the Opteron 2360 SE are expected to arrive… On top of that, Intel is preparing new 45nm "Harpertown" Xeons for launch some time soon, complete with a 6MB L2 cache, 1.6GHz front-side bus, clock speeds over 3GHz, and expected improvements in per-clock performance and power efficiency. These new Xeons could make life difficult for Barcelona… this CPU architecture may not translate well to the desktop, where it has to compete with a Core 2 processor freed from the power and memory latency penalties of FB-DIMMs…”
“When you are looking for the highest performance however, Intel has still a solid advantage with it's 3 GHz Xeon x5365”
Note: Sample benchmark from Anandtech and may not be representative of the entire comparison.
Anyone thinking this is a good start for K10 is fooling themselves. This is a terrible start for any new product, never mind one that is desperately needed to be better than the competition. When Core2 came out and trounced everything AMD had, even Hector Ruiz was forced to admit that a new generation processor is always expected to "leap-frog" the competition. Clearly things are different this time around. Barcelona's problems and delays when combined with Core2's massive performance improvements over previous generations created a gap too wide for AMD close. For the first time in several processor iterations between Intel and AMD, the latter's new processor falls short. While AMD will be stuck with an already beaten K10 design for the next 3-4 years, in a few months Intel will move to 45nm that will allow it to clock even higher, reduce the cost even further while drawing less power. Expect the gap on any meaningful metric to continue to increase as AMD's K10 is simply not good enough.