Articles: CPU

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As for the working frequencies of the dual-core solutions, it is evident that the die gets more complex when we add the second process core, thus the actual working frequency should get somewhat lower compared to the frequencies contemporary single-core Athlon 64 and Opteron processors can work at today. Right now there are no data about the working frequencies of the first dual-core AMD CPUs, but the dual-core Opteron solutions we have just told you about worked at 1.6GHz. I believe that the final working frequencies of the first officially announced dual-core CPUs will hardly be much higher than that. The thing is that AMD has set pretty strict requirements to the maximum heat dissipation of the new dual-core processors. The upcoming dual-core CPUs are claimed to fit into the same thermal interval as the today’s Athlon 64 and Opteron CPUs do. It means that the maximum thermal design power of the new promising products from AMD will be below 95W.

Of course, lower clock frequency will result into noticeable performance drop in those applications, which make no use of multi-threading algorithms. AMD is perfectly aware of this fact that is why they do not push their dual-core solutions into the desktop market that hard. Server and workstation software, however, has been optimized for multi-processor configurations for a long time now. That is why AMD is going to start promoting dual-core architecture for the Opteron family in the first place. And this is going to be a pretty successful move. According to the first benchmark results, even despite the 600MHz-1000MHz lower working frequency of the dual-core CPUs compared with the working frequency of the single-core ones, their performance in applications supporting multi-threading will not suffer.

In SPECint2000 benchmark the system based on two dual-core processors proves about 45% faster than a similar system based on two single-core processors working at 1GHz higher actual clock frequency. If the frequencies difference drops down to 600MHz, the performance gap between the dual-core and the single-core system rises to 55-60%. We observed similar results in SPECfp2000 benchmark. Here the dual-socket system with two dual-core CPUs defeated a similar system with two single-core CPUs by 25-30%, while the working frequencies of the processors differed by 1GHz. When the working frequencies differed by only 600MHz, the performance of the dual-core system turned out 35-40% higher than that of the single-core system. Purely server benchmarks also indicate that high working frequencies are not a determinative for the systems based on dual-core processors. For example, in JBB2000 benchmark a system with dual-core processors outperforms a system with single-core processors by 30%, while the working frequencies of the CPUs in these systems were 1GHz different; and by 45% when the single-core CPUs worked at 600MHz higher clock rate than the dual-core ones. Another benchmark called WEB99_SSL demonstrated almost the same results. So, high clock frequencies are not a must for dual-core Opteron processor family.

According to AMD’s current roadmap, they are going to introduce dual-core Opteron processors in the second half of next year. Note that these CPUs are most likely to be announced not only for two-way systems, but also for single-processor, four-way and even bigger systems. Opteron 1XX series will be continued by dual-core CPUs aka Denmark, Opteron 2XX series will acquire dual-core CPU known under Italy codename, Opteron 8XX product line will have a new dual-core solution called Egypt. However, AMD is not planning to stop at the Opteron family. Closer to the end of the year 2005 they are going to introduce the first dual-core desktop processor. This CPU is most likely to appear first in the Athlon 64 FX family targeted for the pretty narrow enthusiast market segment, and in the meanwhile it is known under Toledo codename.

Later on AMD is going to increase the share of dual-core solutions among its CPUs. So, AMD’s dual-core processors should not be regarded as a purely niche product: these solutions will be invading all market segments with the time. Therefore, AMD has already figured out the strategy in this direction for more than one-year period of time. Of course, they will be shifting to finer production technology of 65nm in the future, which will allow designing a CPU with more than one core per single physical silicon. Moreover, AMD is going to enhance the processor memory controller by providing it with DDR2, DDR3 and FB-DIMM support. They will also start using faster HyperTransport 2.0 bus and implement efficient technologies reducing heat dissipation and power consumption of the new processors by disabling the unused processor cores, which will certainly allow using AMD multi-core solutions in the mobile systems as well.

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