AMD Launches Barcelona, "The World's Most Advanced x86 Processor"

Rob Williams

Staff member
From our front-page news:
AMD today launches their long-awaited Barcelona-based Opteron server processors. Since K8 first launched, not much has changed architecturally, but Barcelona changes that. In addition to Barcelona being AMD's first Quad-Core offering, it's also the first native Quad-Core offering on the market. This differs from Intel's QCs which actually have two Dual-Core dies under the same IHS.

In addition to offering 4x128Kb of L1 and 4x512MB of L2-cache, AMD introduces 2MB of L3-cache, all of which is shared with all available cores. Other notable features include a tweaked IMC which now offers two 64-Bit wide controllers instead of a single 128-bit, improved branch predictors, optimized SSE implementation and of course, better power consumption.

AnandTech has posted two articles, each focusing on a different area. Their server article focuses on what Opteron's are set out to do. The performance gains are obvious. Many new tweaks have proved very worthy for AMD, although Intel's processors won most rounds. AMD didn't allow much time with the chip before NDA lifted, however, so more in-depth articles are to follow.

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Wondering about benefits from the desktop perspective? AMD gave Anand two days to work with all three chips on hand, so the results are obviously not conclusive, but immediate benefits are seen when compared to K8. The 2.0GHz processor doesn't make jaw drops as hoped, but faster chips are on the way. AnandTech and others had 2.5GHz chips on hand, though they are not due out until later this year. Considering that AMD didn't release these 2.5GHz chips at launch though, Barcelona in general is not likely to make overclocking enthusiasts jump for joy. Regardless, the initial performance reports look great for AMD, and their Barcelona will no doubt do well in the market for which it is intended. You can read both of AnandTech's articles and the official (incredibly massive) press release below.

Here's where things get complicated; we knew Phenom/Barcelona would be faster clock for clock, it was only a matter of how big of an improvement we'd get. If we are to believe that 15% is the best we'll get on average, taking into account that Penryn is around 5% faster than Conroe, the updated architecture from AMD alone isn't enough to really compete with Intel. In other words, price matters.

Source: AMD Press Release, AnandTech (Server), AnandTech (Desktop)


It is. It's called Phenom, and it will actually work on (some) existing AM2 socket boards. The high-end Phenom FX chips will not work on AM2 though.