AMD Climbs Back in the Ring

By Michael Feldman

September 14, 2007

After talking up its quad-core processors for more than a year, AMD finally released them into the wild this week. On Monday, the company kicked off a public relations extravaganza that celebrated the global launch of its new quad-core processors, which included events in Bangalore, Barcelona, Beijing, San Francisco, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo.

Outmaneuvered by its larger rival over the past year, AMD has seen its worldwide server market share shrink from about 25 percent to 13 percent and has witnessed its bottom line bleed into the red. Since Intel’s quad-core offerings have been available for almost a year, AMD has been under increasing pressure to deliver its quads into the market. AMD’s six-month delay in getting its chips ready has given Intel the opportunity to romp freely in the x86 quad-core server space. AMD is hoping the new Opterons will not only stop the hemorrhaging, but will also start to reverse Intel’s momentum.
 
“Frankly it’s the biggest thing since the original Operton launch,” said Steve Demski, AMD Opteron Product Manager, Server Workstation Division. “In fact, it might be even bigger than the original.”

When AMD introduced the new processor back in 2003, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for customers to purchase Opteron-equipped computers. Today, Opterons are found on 55 Tier 1 platforms as well as additional regional platforms worldwide. From that perspective, the new quad-cores represent a much larger opportunity for AMD than its offerings in years past.

The initial launch includes nine offerings: five two-socket processors (Opteron 23xx), which range from 1.7 GHz to 2.0 GHz in speed, and four four-socket processors (Opteron 83xx), which range from 1.8 to 2.0 GHz. They are being priced aggressively against their Intel counterparts. For example, the Opteron 8350 is listed at $1019 versus the comparable Xeon 7320 at $1177. Since HyperTransport and the integrated memory controller gives AMD a performance edge at the four-socket and above scale, the high-end Opterons should be very competitive. In the more mainstream two-socket market, the Opteron 2350 is listed at $389; its Xeon 5345 counterpart is listed at $455. Intel could decide to lower its prices now or wait for its 45nm Harpertown processors (due in November) to get a better price-performance position against the new Opterons. The quad-core competition is just getting started.

Besides just putting four cores on a die, AMD has made a number of other improvements in the design. The AMD engineers accelerated the floating point unit significantly. According to Demski, they’ve quadrupled raw FP performance compared to the previous generation. This was accomplished by doubling the FP pipeline from 64 bits to 128 bits and doubling the data and instruction fetch bandwidth. They’ve also added support for misaligned SSE operations, which should save a clock cycle on some instructions.

The on-die memory controller has been completely redesigned. The new controller has deeper buffers to play with, is able to prefetch into L1 cache instead of L2 cache, and has incorporated an optimized DRAM paging scheme. In addition, the 128-bit memory controller can be configured via a BIOS setting into two 64-bit channels that operate independently. This enables an application to read and write data in parallel. Overall, AMD says they’ve achieved 50 percent better memory bandwidth in the new quad-cores compared to their dual-core brethren. And they’re going to need all that bandwidth, since there are now twice as many cores contending for memory.

AMD also put a lot of thought into minimizing energy consumption by taking advantage of the “native” quad-core implementation. For example, the clock frequencies on each of the four cores can be adjusted independently, based on an individual core’s workload. The new chips also make much more aggressive use of clock gating, so that areas of the chip can be disabled when not in use. In addition, AMD has split the power supplied to the memory controller from the power supplied to the cores. This enables a 200 MHz increase in the memory bus clock, which translates into better memory performance. It also allows for better granularity of power management since it decouples memory needs from computational needs. For example, an application running in a two processor system, but which only requires the cores on one CPU, is able to access memory on the other CPU, with those processor’s cores effectively turned off.

To go along with the new emphasis on energy conservation, AMD has decided to change the way it measures power consumption. In a nutshell, AMD is switching from a Thermal Design Power (TDP) metric to an Average CPU Power (ACP) metric. AMD’s TDP will still be defined as the maximum theoretical power used by the processor, and is only intended to be used by system engineers for determining thermal design limits. ACP will represent the maximum power the chip will draw under real-world conditions. It’s derived by running high utilization workloads such as TPC-C, STREAM, and various SPEC benchmarks.

Looking at the quad-core offerings AMD introduced this week: the standard processors have a TDP of 95 watts, with an ACP of 75 watts; the low-power processors — what the company calls its high-efficiency line — have a TDP of 68 watts and an ACP of 55 watts.

AMD claims that ACP is similar to Intel’s TDP. And while Intel’s TDP is almost certainly not equivalent to AMD’s TDP, it’s not clear if Intel’s TDP is equivalent to ACP. Confused? For the end-user, the best metric will be plugging the system into the wall, running the applications, and measuring the power usage.

AMD provided some benchmark comparisons for a number of synthetic and real-world HPC-type workloads. Pitting its 2.0 GHz Opteron 2350 against the 2.3 GHz Xeon 5345, AMD reported that they beat the competition by anywhere from 7 to 189 percent, depending upon the workload. Independent testing from AnandTech (www.anandtech.com), using the same chip matchup, showed more mixed results. In these tests, the Xeon prevailed in the Linpack benchmark (using Intel’s own Math Kernel Library), while the Opteron had a slight edge with a 3D rendering code. AnandTech’s conclusion was that Intel and AMD are about equal in raw floating point power, but the Opterons have the edge when the application needs to access main memory a lot.

Neither set of tests was applied to the four-socket versions of the processors to be used in multiprocessor (MP) servers. Up until last week, Intel didn’t have an MP solution on its latest Core architecture. But with the Tigerton Xeon introduction, it’s now possible to match the 83xx Opterons against the 73xx Xeons. Because of the inherently better scalability of AMD’s architecture, most analysts believe that the Opteron should still be the one to beat in multiprocessor server space. But for single-thread performance, the Xeons will continue to dominate.

Since Intel’s next-generation Xeon Harpertown processors are expected to come online later this year, the longer-term success of AMD’s quads will depend upon how quickly the company can ramp up clock speeds. “Special Edition” quad-core Opterons are already in the works and scheduled for release in Q4. Those CPUs will start at 2.3 GHz and go up from there. Even the standard and low-power processors are expected to get speed bumps before the end of 2007. If the quad-core Opterons can stay competitive on price and performance over the next six months, AMD should achieve the rebound it hoped for and then some.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Supercomputers Streamline Prediction of Dangerous Arrhythmia

June 2, 2020

Heart arrhythmia can prove deadly, contributing to the hundreds of thousands of deaths from cardiac arrest in the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, many of those arrhythmia are induced as side effects from various medicati Read more…

By Staff report

Indiana University to Deploy Jetstream 2 Cloud with AMD, Nvidia Technology

June 2, 2020

Indiana University has been awarded a $10 million NSF grant to build ‘Jetstream 2,’ a cloud computing system that will provide 8 aggregate petaflops of computing capability in support of data analysis and AI workload Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been instrumental to AMD’s datacenter market resurgence. Nanomet Read more…

By Doug Black

Supercomputer-Powered Protein Simulations Approach Lab Accuracy

June 1, 2020

Protein simulations have dominated the supercomputing conversation of late as supercomputers around the world race to simulate the viral proteins of COVID-19 as accurately as possible and simulate potential bindings in t Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC Career Notes: June 2020 Edition

June 1, 2020

In this monthly feature, we'll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it's a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we've got Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

AWS Solution Channel

Computational Fluid Dynamics on AWS

Over the past 30 years Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) has grown to become a key part of many engineering design processes. From aircraft design to modelling the blood flow in our bodies, the ability to understand the behaviour of fluids has enabled countless innovations and improved the time to market for many products. Read more…

Supercomputer Modeling Shows How COVID-19 Spreads Through Populations

May 30, 2020

As many states begin to loosen the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders that have forced most Americans inside for the past two months, researchers are poring over the data, looking for signs of the dreaded second peak of t Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Indiana University to Deploy Jetstream 2 Cloud with AMD, Nvidia Technology

June 2, 2020

Indiana University has been awarded a $10 million NSF grant to build ‘Jetstream 2,’ a cloud computing system that will provide 8 aggregate petaflops of comp Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

COVID-19 HPC Consortium Expands to Europe, Reports on Research Projects

May 28, 2020

The COVID-19 HPC Consortium, a public-private effort delivering free access to HPC processing for scientists pursuing coronavirus research – some utilizing AI Read more…

By Doug Black

$100B Plan Submitted for Massive Remake and Expansion of NSF

May 27, 2020

Legislation to reshape, expand - and rename - the National Science Foundation has been submitted in both the U.S. House and Senate. The proposal, which seems to Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Boosts Deep Learning Accuracy on Memristive Chips

May 27, 2020

IBM researchers have taken another step towards making in-memory computing based on phase change (PCM) memory devices a reality. Papers in Nature and Frontiers Read more…

By John Russell

Hats Over Hearts: Remembering Rich Brueckner

May 26, 2020

HPCwire and all of the Tabor Communications family are saddened by last week’s passing of Rich Brueckner. He was the ever-optimistic man in the Red Hat presiding over the InsideHPC media portfolio for the past decade and a constant presence at HPC’s most important events. Read more…

Nvidia Q1 Earnings Top Expectations, Datacenter Revenue Breaks $1B

May 22, 2020

Nvidia’s seemingly endless roll continued in the first quarter with the company announcing blockbuster earnings that exceeded Wall Street expectations. Nvidia Read more…

By Doug Black

Microsoft’s Massive AI Supercomputer on Azure: 285k CPU Cores, 10k GPUs

May 20, 2020

Microsoft has unveiled a supercomputing monster – among the world’s five most powerful, according to the company – aimed at what is known in scientific an Read more…

By Doug Black

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Contributors

Tech Conferences Are Being Canceled Due to Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Several conferences scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, including Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) and the Strata Data + AI conference, have Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Exascale Watch: El Capitan Will Use AMD CPUs & GPUs to Reach 2 Exaflops

March 4, 2020

HPE and its collaborators reported today that El Capitan, the forthcoming exascale supercomputer to be sited at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and serve Read more…

By John Russell

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray to Provide NOAA with Two AMD-Powered Supercomputers

February 24, 2020

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week announced plans for a major refresh of its operational weather forecasting supercomputers, part of a 10-year, $505.2 million program, which will secure two HPE-Cray systems for NOAA’s National Weather Service to be fielded later this year and put into production in early 2022. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This