Friday, May 2, 2008

AMD: Next-Generation Microprocessors’ Will Solve Problems that Cannot Be Addressed with Hardware

Advanced Micro Devices has been struggling to deliver higher-performance quad-core central processing units for months to address the market of enthusiasts, unfortunately, without much luck. But things may be more complicated than one may imagine and the chipmaker will continue to have hard times with higher-performance chips until the new code-named Bulldozer micro-architecture arrives.

AMD’s Athlon 64 and Opteron processors substantially reshaped the markets of desktop, server and workstation chips thanks to serious performance advantage over competing solutions from Intel, however, the new-generation code-named K10 central processing units (CPUs) can hardly leave Intel’s chips behind in terms of performance, but consume considerably more power. Apparently, AMD has problems with the design of its quad-core AMD Phenom and AMD Opteron processors that cannot be cured easily enough by tweaking the current hardware based on the current micro-architecture.

“If I look at the next-generation architecture of our CPU, then it will definitely not be, how can I say, comparable with the Phenom. It will look completely different. [It will] solve problems that today we think can never be addressed by hardware,” said Giuseppe Amato, technical director of sales and marketing for EMEA region at AMD in an interview with Custom PC web-site.

AMD admitted in the past that it had issues with “wedding” the chip design with process technology, but denied the fact that it had issues with the micro-architecture or its current implementation when it comes to volume production. However, judging by the fact that the company still cannot deliver quad-core microprocessors clocked at 2.60GHz or higher, it has issues with volume manufacturing of higher-end K10 generation chips. If Mr. Amato’s comments touch upon the problems of higher-end chips’ volume ramp, then it will be pretty hard for AMD to compete against Intel for higher-end CPU market.

Bulldozer is the next-generation micro-architecture and processor design developed from the ground up by AMD. It is expected that the next-generation micro-processors will offer considerably higher performance than current-generation chips. AMD Bulldozer CPUs will feature SSE5 instruction set. The first Bulldozer processors are projected to emerge on the market in very late 2009 at the earliest or early 2011 at the latest.

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