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AMD launches Barcelona

AMD launches Barcelona

The new AMD Opterons - now with four cores.

After months of waiting, AMD has announced that its quad-core Barcelona is finally here. Well, it is if you're interested in servers.

For those of us wanting the consumer orientated Phenom X4 processors, then the wait is still a little longer. Sorry.

Barcelona launches at 2.0GHz with the Opteron 2350, but by Q407/Q108 AMD expects to reach at least 2.5GHz, as samples at this clock speed are already doing the rounds. If you've had your head under a rock for the last six months, you can read our initial Barcelona coverage, which details the core enhancements over the current Athlon X2 processors.

The new Opterons are socket compatible with current socket 1207 motherboards which just require a BIOS update.

Phenom will work best with AM2+ which uses split power planes to provide separate power to the CPUs and memory controller. The new CPUs are all built on a 65nm architecture and have 463 million transistors, in comparison the latest iteration of the Athlon X2 has "just" 230 million transistors.

Comparing the transistor count to its competition, Intel's Core 2 Quad and Xeon processors (which are made with two discrete dies) have 582 million transistors, but the majority of this can be put down to the larger caches.

Anandtech has put together a Phenom preview, where it compares a single Barcelona to a pair of dual-core Opterons at the same clock speed. From the results, it seems the new Barcelona core is somewhere between 10-15 percent faster, clock to clock, than the current Athlon 64 X2s. However, bear in mind that this is with slower registered ECC DIMMs at DDR2-667 and a server motherboard, not 1,066MHz unbuffered memory and an enthusiast-orientated chipset.

Can't wait until Phenom? Is quad-core over rated? Or will an Intel 45nm sort you for some potential-super-overclock action? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

33 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
cjoyce1980 10th September 2007, 13:24 Quote
AMD is the King again
docodine 10th September 2007, 13:45 Quote
Not exactly, from what it sounds like in Anand's article, AMD could be making it worse for itself at this point.
p3n 10th September 2007, 13:51 Quote
Too late everyone owns a core2duo :p
[USRF]Obiwan 10th September 2007, 13:55 Quote
Well.. if its the same performance for half the price, it is not worse but better for me and you
MilkMan5 10th September 2007, 14:05 Quote
Available, but how many!

What’s the power consumption on these Barcelona CPU…

Interesting times ahead for the CPU business, I wonder who will lead the CPU race next year – 2008
Jack_Pepsi 10th September 2007, 14:17 Quote
I'll be awaiting the for the desktop Phenoms - all these 'previews' ... pffft!
DarkLord7854 10th September 2007, 16:13 Quote
Call me an Intel fanboy if you will, but for the amount of time we've waited for this.. a 10-15% improvement isn't that awe-inspiring.. specially with all the hype that got generated, I was expecting something more ground shaking, say like 30 to 35%...
Phil Rhodes 10th September 2007, 16:25 Quote
Very much looking forward to introducing Mr. After Effects to Ms. Quad Core. May the union be fruitful.

Phil
kosch 10th September 2007, 18:30 Quote
How many people will flock back to the AMD church and repent in front of their god!

The battle for your soul is on AMD v Intel, which one is the devil though? :p
8igdave 10th September 2007, 19:10 Quote
I dont understand why ATI and AMD ever merged. Nor do i understand why they have totaly allowed NVida and Intel to walk over them this year and while the damage is obiously not totaly pernament. It will be untill people need to upgrade again.

How many people are going to flock over to AMD untill they achually need a new cpu or if the AMD's blow away the intels enough to warrent a new board and cpu. As for the graphics cards, well what a joke. If AMD would buck there ideas up we might have had a nice high end nvida card for november. Looks like Nvida are going to hit mid market instead now.
Techno-Dann 10th September 2007, 20:12 Quote
My system is ready and waiting for an AM2+ Phenom. I specifically got a cute little 4400+ because I knew I'd be upgrading the moment Phenom launched.
2JSC 10th September 2007, 22:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Techno-Dann
My system is ready and waiting for an AM2+ Phenom. I specifically got a cute little 4400+ because I knew I'd be upgrading the moment Phenom launched.

That was my plan, but since I was going to be building a completely new system, I decided to hold off. I wanna get a decent Phenom and good RD790 board to match it. But I need a new case to fit everything in before spending money on components. :'(
devdevil85 10th September 2007, 22:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8igdave
I dont understand why ATI and AMD ever merged.
Oh believe me there was a reason....and how AMD keeps the public informed about what their operations are, I don't think we'll know until they want us to...
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8igdave
Nor do i understand why they have totaly allowed NVida and Intel to walk over them this year and while the damage is obiously not totaly pernament. It will be untill people need to upgrade again.
AMD isn't like Intel or Nvidia: they don't have the same amount of money for R&D (especially after the merger), so instead of shooting for the present, they are focusing on future technolgies (which they have shown and are already coming out with; mainly in the CPU market). From what I know, AMD's main concerns are in the server market and average consumer market (on a price/performance level of course). With that said, it makes sense AMD isn't fighting to be the "top dog" in the Performance Only category; their intention is to offer a product that is innovative, is a step forward and is still worth the price tag which fills a niche that the other companies aren't filling or focusing on as much.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8igdave
How many people are going to flock over to AMD untill they achually need a new cpu or if the AMD's blow away the intels enough to warrent a new board and cpu.
(raises hand), but don't get me wrong. I'm going to wait for benchmarks and reviews before I decide, but if AMD brings what they promised w/ Phenom then I'm biting....
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8igdave
As for the graphics cards, well what a joke. If AMD would buck there ideas up we might have had a nice high end nvida card for november. Looks like Nvida are going to hit mid market instead now.
For the price you pay, the card isn't bad. Also, with only one native DX10 game (Bioshock) to base performance on so far, it's still quite hard to tell how the card will handle future DX10-based games (espcecially with future updated driver support)....anyways that's my opinion
GoodBytes 10th September 2007, 23:38 Quote
Compared my AMD Athlon 64 4400+ Socket 939, with my brother Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0Ghz, with the same OS, RAM, video card. There is no VISUAL difference in games. not even on Max Max settings. FPS and game loading wise I only see 10-15% increase. Not enough to justify it's higher price on my taste. Both comps are mainly slowed down due to the Hard Drives.
leexgx 11th September 2007, 01:16 Quote
5600X2 here my mobo is awateing new cpu (been thinking of switching to an intel/blue cpu for an long time but the performance of my motherboard an cpu will keep me happy and lag free i not see any dif in games) what i want to know Is the cpu new X4 cpu thats running at 2ghz faster then 3ghz x2 when useing games that are single threded and some what dual threded if not i be buying an slower cpu (like when i whent form an single core to an dual core i knew it was slower but just picked an faster ghz cpu to compensate for it)
Tyinsar 11th September 2007, 01:32 Quote
@leexqx: 4 cores won't matter in games until more games are properly multithreaded. Until then X2 is at least good enough for most people.
Amon 11th September 2007, 02:55 Quote
I'm not a connoisseur of anally strict, technically-bound computer games, but I'm rather sick and tired of the "that won't make a difference until it's multi-thread... etc, etc." mitigation. Alright, I know and get the f*cking point, but, bloody f*cking christ, if that's the only argument against what merits using a four-core processor for a power user then some people really need to walk off of a cliff in their sleep.

OK, games are not "properly multi-threaded" (what the flying f*ck does that mean? Wouldn't the on-die crossbar or load distributor already solve this? What is the proposed "proper" way, then?) but that is really a moot argument these days. But, you know, I tend to put together a $2000+ machine to do a few things other than play computer games. Oh boy, don't tell me my operating system from 2003 isn't "properly multithreaded" either...
GoodBytes 11th September 2007, 03:17 Quote
Ok let me explain from my knowledge (please correct me if I'm wrong) the simplest way I can think.

To have an application that uses several cores simultaneously to give you great application performance it needs to be programed to do so.
If it's not then your system, will decide which is core is free-er to take the task.
Therefore on a dual core CPU, you will have Core 1 which handles Windows and all your mini and startup apps, and Care 2 takes the game/application. UNLESS the game/application specifically mentions to be in core 1, as it cause issues if on the second core for some reason. (Which is the issue from some application, no so much for games (this includes old games).
Amon 11th September 2007, 03:35 Quote
Yes, everyone knows that. My argument was that the processor's on-die distributor should be capable of splitting threads across all four cores now, are they not? Folding@Home is one real example in which I specify it to use 100% CPU time (the program doesn't appear to be what you'd call "multi-threaded"), but the processor decides to split the program to 50% per core (on my dual-core processor) without my consent and beyond my control.
completemadness 11th September 2007, 04:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodBytes
Therefore on a dual core CPU, you will have Core 1 which handles Windows and all your mini and startup apps, and Care 2 takes the game/application. UNLESS the game/application specifically mentions to be in core 1, as it cause issues if on the second core for some reason. (Which is the issue from some application, no so much for games (this includes old games).
actually windows spreads load evenly among all cores

therefore, a game will actually use 50% of each core (ish) its a bit stupid really, but whatever

edit
Technically im just going on technicalities here, and the rest of what you said is right :)
Goty 11th September 2007, 04:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amon
Yes, everyone knows that. My argument was that the processor's on-die distributor should be capable of splitting threads across all four cores now, are they not? Folding@Home is one real example in which I specify it to use 100% CPU time (the program doesn't appear to be what you'd call "multi-threaded"), but the processor decides to split the program to 50% per core (on my dual-core processor) without my consent and beyond my control.

It's not beyond your control, you just need to set the affinity to a single core.
completemadness 11th September 2007, 04:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amon
but the processor decides to split the program to 50% per core (on my dual-core processor) without my consent and beyond my control.
Uh its windows fault, not the proccesor ;)
HourBeforeDawn 11th September 2007, 06:52 Quote
from the live conference that I watched earlier today it looks very impressive, I cant wait to see it in action, the new super computer at umm cant remember the university will be using 15000 of those cpus in it so thats just nuts.
Techno-Dann 11th September 2007, 08:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by completemadness
actually windows spreads load evenly among all cores

therefore, a game will actually use 50% of each core (ish) its a bit stupid really, but whatever

edit
Technically im just going on technicalities here, and the rest of what you said is right :)

Only if it's a multi-threaded game. If the game is only single-threaded (as 99% of games today are), it can only be run on a single core. Everything else can (and probably will) be shifted over to the other core to let the game use as much in the way of resources as possible, but it still only uses a single core. I believe that Folding runs multiple instances of itself in the background on dual-core systems, but I'm not sure. While it is theoretically possible to split a thread (AMD was playing with it for a while, IIRC), it's not possible on modern desktop hardware and OSes.

It'd be really cool if it could be done efficiently, though... Finally, the old school n00b saying that "a dual-core 2.4 Ghz CPU is like a 4.8 Ghz single core!" would be close to true.
cyrilthefish 11th September 2007, 11:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Techno-Dann
Only if it's a multi-threaded game. If the game is only single-threaded (as 99% of games today are), it can only be run on a single core. Everything else can (and probably will) be shifted over to the other core to let the game use as much in the way of resources as possible, but it still only uses a single core. I believe that Folding runs multiple instances of itself in the background on dual-core systems, but I'm not sure. While it is theoretically possible to split a thread (AMD was playing with it for a while, IIRC), it's not possible on modern desktop hardware and OSes.
I just got my first dual-core PC, so haven't been using it that long, but it does seem that all single-threaded apps bounce constantly from core to core, averaging a 70%/30% usage split over the cores (i would have expected 100%/0%) unless you manually set the application to one core only in task manager.
Renoir 11th September 2007, 16:11 Quote
I've noticed that task manager shows a program I know to be single threaded being split across 2 cores sometimes 50/50 sometimes 70/30 or any division that adds up to 100. Is it a flaw in the way task manager presents the graphs or is it that the OS constantly flips the thread from 1 core to the other at such a rate that task manager is not granular enough to show it and rather produces an average over time e.g. over the course of say 1 second the thread used core0 for 70% of that second and core1 for 30%?
completemadness 11th September 2007, 18:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Techno-Dann
Only if it's a multi-threaded game. If the game is only single-threaded (as 99% of games today are), it can only be run on a single core. Everything else can (and probably will) be shifted over to the other core to let the game use as much in the way of resources as possible, but it still only uses a single core. I believe that Folding runs multiple instances of itself in the background on dual-core systems, but I'm not sure. While it is theoretically possible to split a thread (AMD was playing with it for a while, IIRC), it's not possible on modern desktop hardware and OSes.
See Below
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renoir
or is it that the OS constantly flips the thread from 1 core to the other at such a rate that task manager is not granular enough to show it and rather produces an average over time e.g. over the course of say 1 second the thread used core0 for 70% of that second and core1 for 30%?
Thats exactly it

Because windows trys to even out usage over both cores, when the game is on Core0 that core has 100% usage and the other has 0% (ish) so it flips them, then its reversed and it flips again
Aslong as the cores share the same memory, i dont think there is a real performance drop for doing this (because programs are already loaded/unloaded from the CPU thousands of times a second anyway)
Task manager shows the average so you usually end up with 50/50 ish
Anakha 11th September 2007, 23:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord7854
Call me an Intel fanboy if you will, but for the amount of time we've waited for this.. a 10-15% improvement isn't that awe-inspiring.. specially with all the hype that got generated, I was expecting something more ground shaking, say like 30 to 35%...

Do bear in mind that's a 10-15% improvement over an already kick-ass system (Dual Dual-core Opterons). Considering you can take a Dual-Socket1207 Opteron board and drop these in (making a very nice 8 core system) Or (If they get some 4-way chips out) 16-core on a 4-socket board, this is definitely something to look out for. Comparing one of these to a Core Duo is no contest (It runs just as fast with only 2 cores. The extra 2 you get make it untouchable). And it's got the Core Quad beaten easily on price.

As for the "Windows can't cope with so many things" arguments going on, remember drivers run in seperate threads too, so you can have your video card drivers on core 1, soundcard on core 2, game on core 3 and all-the-other-systray-tasks on core 4. Or any combination of the above. And that's assuming the game you're playing isn't thread-aware (Even Doom 3 has r_smp=1 for better multi-core performance).

Oh, and remember that these are Opteron (That is, server) processors. So it'll help a lot with Virtualisation and CPU-intensive tasks (Pretty much every decent RDBMS out there is multi-cpu capable).
completemadness 12th September 2007, 03:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anakha
As for the "Windows can't cope with so many things" arguments going on, remember drivers run in seperate threads too, so you can have your video card drivers on core 1, soundcard on core 2, game on core 3 and all-the-other-systray-tasks on core 4.
i don't know what drivers your running, but none of mine use any of the processor (or a negligible amount) and i don't even know if Ive ever seen a driver in the process list

Anyway, back to the point, the game process is the thing that uses 100% of a core, lets say you force that to core1, and everything else to core0, i expect you will see about 1-2% on core0 and 100% on core1
Max Spain 12th September 2007, 17:30 Quote
I just hope that they left Presidio out of this one. As far as performance goes, they appear to be competitive with Intel again, and power consumption is lower with AMD. I'd really like to buy an AMD system again...
Tyinsar 12th September 2007, 23:18 Quote
Throughout AMD 's history their performance / price ratio has almost always been good in the middle to low range. That is still true today. To me the high end is seldom worth the price premium anyway. The only case where Intel is a "better deal" is in the upper range or for overclocking (then again if you look at the "good" components for overclocking the prices on those can put you in a position where the cost approaches that of the higher performance system anyway). Given that, I buy both AMD and Intel based systems based on what is the best combination of deals at the time.

As for the 4 core debate, there is an interesting article at extremetech: Does Quad Core Matter? (The last three pages are especially relevant.)
The_Beast 12th September 2007, 23:36 Quote
I don't think the barcelona is going to bring AMD back from the edge
leexgx 13th September 2007, 06:31 Quote
to bad the desktop ones not going to be here untill December If that time table even holds up

i am intrested in it my self, just depends on the performaceany of my none gameing pcs just low end X2 chips but high end may still be intel but thats like next year 1Q mayby
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