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We’re not scared of Nehalem, says AMD

We’re not scared of Nehalem, says AMD

AMD's Barcelona core had a native quad-core architecture and an integrated memory controller too. AMD describes Nehalem as "the sincerest form of flattery".

Intel’s new Xeon W5580 is getting a phenomenal amount of praise at the moment, but Intel’s chief CPU rival, AMD, claims that it’s not even remotely scared of the chip’s Nehalem EP architecture. To demonstrate the point, AMD’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Nigel Dessau, wrote a mock interview with himself on his blog yesterday, in which he discussed the reasons why he thinks AMD has nothing to worry about.

The interview kicks off with the following introduction:

Interviewer: Wow, you people must be really scared.

Me: Nope.

Interviewer: Nope? Ok, how about really, really scared?

Me: Nope. Nope. No, really we’re not.

Justifying the company’s lack of concern over Nehalem, Dessau points out that “Over the last ten or so years, we have traded performance leadership with Intel something like six times. Remember 2006? We heard some of these same statements from Intel then, about an eighty percent performance advantage and never losing another benchmark to AMD again with Woodcrest. That gap closed quickly.”

Dessau also points out that the best-selling chips in the server market aren’t the fastest and most expensive ones, saying that “more than ninety percent of what we sell is not our fastest part. The market for the fastest part is always small and in this economy it’s likely even smaller.” Dessau admits that Intel’s new architecture is faster than what AMD currently has to offer, and even refers to it as a “nice job”, but he also says that Intel’s “overhaul” of its server architecture is unlikely to be popular with businesses looking to save money and avoid disruption.

As well as this, Dessau dismisses performance benchmarks as an important factor for businesses making a buying decision. When his mock interviewer asks if the benchmarks of Nehalem count for anything, he replies: “Only if you run your business on benchmarks.” Dessau also notes the current lack of a Nehalem-based four-processor Xeon platform at the moment.

Meanwhile, AMD’s director of global platform and product communications, John Taylor, also blogged his opinion about Nehalem. Taylor criticised the Nehalem EP’s use of DDR3 memory, which he says “draws more power and comes at a price premium.” While the use of DDR3 memory is good news for PC enthusiasts looking to build a performance PC that can also be used for gaming, Taylor points out that it’s not a good technology for servers that usually have large amounts of memory.

AMD’s bloggers also took the opportunity to point out that there’s nothing essentially new about Nehalem’s core design. It’s a native quad-core chip with an integrated memory controller, which AMD has had since it introduced the Barcelona core in 2007. Dessau says that it’s an architecture that “some might call a copy, at least as far as the architecture is concerned,” and also refers to it as the “Opti-clone”. The title of the blog post: “The Sincerest Form of Flattery” also refers to Intel’s use of ideas that AMD originally pioneered.

Is AMD right to dismiss Intel’s Nehalem EP architecture because of its cost, and do most businesses really care more about value than performance? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

12 Comments

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bowman 1st April 2009, 12:02 Quote
That's like saying that a Porsche is a copy of the T-Ford because it has four wheels, a transmission, an engine, a seat, a wheel..

Yeah, they used the same ideas you did. It's not like you didn't step in someone else's footsteps when you created a NUMA architecture and added a memory controller to the CPU. What matters is whose product performs better.. And right now, you guys aren't even close.

If anyone wants to call me a fanboy, let me count the number of Intel machines I have.. Oh, that's 1. I have 6 AMD machines. From that time when it was the other way 'round.
Mentai 1st April 2009, 12:15 Quote
Although they are as conceited as always in saying it, AMD is right. They will lose little sales as most businesses in these times can't afford that premium. The true winner has the best mid range.
Stormwulf 1st April 2009, 12:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentai
Although they are as conceited as always in saying it, AMD is right. They will lose little sales as most businesses in these times can't afford that premium. The true winner has the best mid range.

QFT
n3mo 1st April 2009, 12:27 Quote
While it's obvious for this kind of statement to come from AMD, it's basically right. Most (and I mean 85-90%) of sales are low-to-mid-end parts so the new Xeons are more of a marketing gimmick than a real deal, especially given the fact that for the price of one of them you can have three fastest Opterons which will overall be faster and give you more physical cores to do your job, and for the price difference between DDR2 and DDR3 you can buy a fourth one. Businessmen are not fanboys, they go where the cost/performance ratio is better and Intel's traditionally stupid and completely unjustified pricing policy makes the new xeons nice to look at, but not a viable market option.
nicae 1st April 2009, 13:15 Quote
What about platform costs? AFAIK, moving from any other system to Nehalem EP implies in a whole system overhaul. Is that the case with most modern Opterons?
dec 1st April 2009, 13:56 Quote
wasnt it AMD to make their opterons have something similar to QPI in the first place? If so, I think thats what they are talking about when they say their arent scared of nehalem EP's. AMD should have made the phenom II's with AMD's version of QPI and their equivalent of SMT then sell that @ $140USD. imagine that competing with core i7's for half the price. then intel would be saying they arent afraid of AMD.
phuzz 1st April 2009, 14:43 Quote
When we needed a couple of new servers at work we went for the cheapest option, in this case that was Opterons instead of Xeons by about £150 per server.
Then I found it was going to cost us £6000 for a copy of SQL2005 and that £300 saving didn't look very important :(
Burnout21 1st April 2009, 16:12 Quote
Still you saved £300 even if you did have to spend a further £6K.

AMD is right, its the best mid to low range cost of server parts. I think AMD will bounce back with something interesting in the near future after all each side keeps winning battles but neither have won the war yet.

AMD just need to get there toe into the netbook market.
bowman 1st April 2009, 17:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzz
When we needed a couple of new servers at work we went for the cheapest option, in this case that was Opterons instead of Xeons by about £150 per server.
Then I found it was going to cost us £6000 for a copy of SQL2005 and that £300 saving didn't look very important :(

Proprietary? Why?

http://www.sun.com/software/products/mysql/getit.jsp
Saivert 1st April 2009, 17:16 Quote
Business rhetoric. Gotta love it!
FeRaL 1st April 2009, 18:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzz
When we needed a couple of new servers at work we went for the cheapest option, in this case that was Opterons instead of Xeons by about £150 per server.
Then I found it was going to cost us £6000 for a copy of SQL2005 and that £300 saving didn't look very important :(


I'm sure your accounting department was happy you spent an extra $300.
biebiep 1st April 2009, 18:42 Quote
I lol'd at the comment about there being no 4socket nehalems.

After reading all those benchmarks and real-life simulations, who the hell needs a 4-way nehalem with 32 "virtual" cores?

They are achieving double the performance AMD offers with just 2 processors anyway :p
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