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Even though in the recent years central processing units (CPUs) from Advanced Micro Devices were competitive on the mainstream markets, the company virtually ceased to compete for high-end desktop systems. Although we will see higher-performance AMD's microprocessors with Piledriver cores this year, the company will only truly introduce something radically better with Steamroller generation of chips, which are due in 2013 - 2014 timeframe.

According to a report from VR-Zone web-site, which cites sources with knowledge of AMD's plans, "there will be substantial changes in both cores and system architecture from Steamroller onwards, that should help make AMD competitive closer to the top". Some executives from AMD have reportedly acknowledged low instructions-per-clock (IPC) performance of the Bulldozer micro-architecture, something that clearly affected overall performance of AMD's latest chips.

While no exact details about the improvements of the Steamroller family of microprocessors are known, it is expected that both mainstream and high-performance platforms featuring Steamroller-class processing engines will support new technologies, such as PCI Express 3.0, more DDR3 memory channels, better integration between CPU and GPU chips and other improvements.

What should be kept in mind is that AMD's very first code-named Kaveri accelerated processing units with Steamroller x86 cores that will become available in 2013 will not feature fully-fledged Steamroller cores, but something better than Piledriver, but less advanced than the Steamroller cores found in the next-gen server and desktop platforms. AMD's current plans to not include Steamroller-class high-performance CPUs for next year, hence, the company will only be able to get back to high-end CPU-centric systems earlier than in 2014.

Another important factor that should be considered is that the Steamroller-based central processing units for high-performance servers and desktops [due in very late 2013 or in 2014] will compete not against Intel's current-generation or next-generation processors, but against server offerings based on Haswell and desktop offerings powered by Rockwell/Broadwell, which will be made using 22nm and 14nm process technologies, respectively.

In the meantime, boosting efficiency of heterogeneous computing in general as well as heterogeneous multi-core "Fusion" chips in particular will be the two main tasks for AMD. The company's  next-generation discrete Radeon HD "Sea Islands" family of chips as well as future-generations of APUs code-named Kaveri and Kabini will feature numerous HSA [heterogeneous systems architecture]-related enhancements in addition to better-performing graphics and x86 cores.

Right now there around 200 apps that can be accelerated by stream processing units of GPUs, but several years from now that number will increase and the compute performance of GPU cores will be critical for success on the mass market. Still, x86 performance clearly remains an important factor, but the breakthrough in that direction may occur only in two years down the road.

Tags: AMD, Radeon, ATI, Sourthern Islands, Sea Islands, Piledriver, Steamroller, Kaveri, Kabini, Jaguar, Bulldozer, 28nm, 32nm


Comments currently: 29
Discussion started: 04/16/12 05:09:05 PM
Latest comment: 04/30/12 01:18:13 PM
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Doesn't this remind you of the whole K10 arch all over again. Bulldozer is what the Phenom I 9xxx series were. Pildriver is what the K10 Phenoms I 9x50 cpus were to the Phenom I 9xxx and Steamroller will be what the K10.5 Phenom II 9xx cpus were to the Phenom I 9x50.
10 6 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 04/16/12 05:09:05 PM]
- collapse thread

They promised significant improvements with Phenom I, and then Phenom II and then 5 year wait for Bulldozer. The industry would certainly welcome a much better AMD processor and it's healthy for the competition. However, it's not as if Intel is standing still. Haswell will likely bring 10-15% instructions per clock increase over SB/IVB and even higher clocks.

In other words, AMD's best scenario is likely trying to match Intel's previous high-end architecture 1 generation old. So if Steamroller matches SB, that would already be an accomplishment. However, given that 1 SB core = 2 BD cores (1 module) in performance, Intel almost has a 1.8x performance per core, this seems unlikely.

2 SB Cores have 80% more performance than 2 Bulldozer cores (1 module):

I have a feeling AMD will continue throwing more cores since its cores won't be as fast as 1 Intel core.
14 5 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 04/17/12 06:40:34 AM]

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
9 4 [Posted by: mokahless  | Date: 04/16/12 06:40:21 PM]

Micro-architecture change require enormous engineering investment and time to debug/qualification. No way AMD has the money and talents (which have been leaving in herd) to make this happen.

This is just a copy of Tick Tock model to appease Wallstreet but can't fool no one.
7 5 [Posted by: Tukee44  | Date: 04/16/12 07:06:11 PM]

Be careful, they might have their Steamrollers in reverse as the result might be steamrolling what is left of their CPU business as it is now.

We had so much marketing spin from AMD's now axed marketing department and from AMD's own JF_AMD going into many forums trying to spin and double down on Bulldozer. Complaining about software not being optimized, the architecture for throughput/multi threading. And yet, you have Sandy Bridge and now Ivy Bridge just beating the crap out of Bulldozer in the heaviest of applications.

I have to admit, I actually believed a lot of the hype. I was so excited that AMD would have a brand new architecture that could go toe-to-toe with Sandy Bridge in price/performance. I was thinking this because I honestly thought that Barcelona would be their low point and would start from there as square one.

I thought they would seriously learn from this mistakes made back then and apply what they learned into Bulldozer of not f*cking up.

I never thought that Bulldozer would perform WORSE in some benches compared to their previous architecture and that is just pathetic. That thought of performing WORSE than your previous product NEVER occurred to me because I just thought that was just silly.

I found this part in the article to be funny:

Another important factor that should be considered is that the Steamroller-based central processing units for high-performance servers and desktops [due in very late 2013 or in 2014] will compete not against Intel's current-generation or next-generation processors, but against server offerings based on Haswell and desktop offerings powered by Rockwell/Broadwell, which will be made using 22nm and 14nm process technologies, respectively.

As if AMD has the engineering prowess, the luxury of time, and the boatloads of money to do that.

But in the midst of this, I have to applaud AMD on their Fusion front. If Trinity delivers and delivers well, expect to see me with a laptop with Trinity in it. Their Fusion initiative is one of the few bright spots I see from this company and I hope they build on it as I am excited what they can do with it in the mobile space, especially in tablets.

In the end, I don't expect AMD to EVER compete head-to-head with Intel on the high-end Desktop and Server spaces, no matter what kind of spinnery they can muster. Intel just has too much of a command in those sectors. But, AMD can compete in the mobile space where Intel has had their share of problems as well. If AMD can take the lead here, I think they can be a very serious player in the mobile segments . . . if they don't pull a f*ck up like Bulldozer.
4 6 [Posted by: RtFusion  | Date: 04/16/12 08:31:44 PM]
- collapse thread

You sir write very well. Kudos to you for pretty much explaining and detailing both my feelings and hopes for AMD!
0 1 [Posted by: crointel  | Date: 04/16/12 11:55:06 PM]

I expect AMDs APUs to be the laptop leader and entry level desktop for the next couple years. A lot can change between now and '13/'14 and I expect AMD will pull ahead their discrete CPU architecture designs to regain highend performance.
16 7 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 04/16/12 08:34:24 PM]

show the post
3 6 [Posted by: TA152H  | Date: 04/16/12 09:02:43 PM]
- collapse thread

Well you got your point, but you don't know how many self called "experts" there are out, that consider IPC per core not important as the Bulldozer has more "cores"
1 2 [Posted by: Rollora  | Date: 04/17/12 04:55:42 AM]
IPC per core is definitely important since more programs do not take advantage of more than 4 threads. If programs were very well threaded, then an 8-core BD would easily outperform a 2500K/2600K and yet it doesn't. Until software starts to catch up, IPC and performance per core > more cores. That means in the foreseeable future, for most people it will be better to buy 4-6 fast cores than 8-12 slow ones.
11 3 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 04/17/12 06:50:57 AM]

arn't these chips gooing to be ddr4 it would be stopid to make a new bourd now hwit ore channels while it will be EOL the next year.
0 2 [Posted by: massau  | Date: 04/17/12 01:13:27 AM]

show the post
1 11 [Posted by: tedstoy  | Date: 04/17/12 04:11:21 AM]

This is the last piece I will ever read on AMD's future predictions.

One can tolerate spin for only so long.

xbit people, if you like to call yourself journalists, please stop publishing these powerpoint slide based "news" from AMD (and also from intel for that matter). News are about actual events. Not about what marketing spinners say.
0 2 [Posted by: eleman  | Date: 04/17/12 04:16:44 AM]
- collapse thread

Chill, X-Bits is Pro Intel and rarely reports positive news about AMD. Just as AMD's future roadmaps change so do Intel's. It's the nature of the game. One thing we can always be certain of is hating of AMD by the Intel fanbois.

Future products is news. You don't have to read it.
11 9 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 04/17/12 06:47:11 AM]
No, they are not. They are rational and objective. They said a lot of positive things in their reviews of Athlon XP, Athlon 64 and Athlon X2. They have also praised Athlon II X4s for budget processors.

Maybe you should take your AMD coloured glasses off and see the world in an objective way as they do.

What you have failed to acknowledge for all the years you've been posting here is that many of us have been supported of AMD because they have superior processors/better bang for the buck (see the 3 I listed above). We moved to Intel not because we "love" Intel but because Intel now makes processors in the way AMD used to make them:

- More efficient
- Better performance/core
- Better overclocking
- Faster in office tasks and games
- Relatively cheap ($225 for 2500K)

All those aspects used to be a forte for AMD. I skipped Pentium 4, Pentium-D in favour of AMD's CPUs during that time because AMD's products were better.

Today, Intel leads in all price segments on the desktop unless you need specific budget gaming performance in which case Llano A8 chips are alright.

Most of us want a competitive AMD we used to own. The reality is that since 2006, AMD hasn't made anything remotely competitive outside of budget offerings for the desktop CPU side. That's why most rational consumers have switched to Intel during Core 2 Duo and stayed there until now. AMD has given no reason at all to buy slower, hotter and worse overclocking processors since Phenom I was introduced.

Bulldozer ironically is even worse than Phenom II architecture is. That's the sad part about all of this.
19 8 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 04/17/12 06:55:04 AM]
I think that was fairly well said BestJinjo. AMD is picking up the pace. But from what I've read as an investor, I don't believe it is their priority to go head to head at the top end of the consumer market - sadly those days may be gone forever (because the world is changing in many ways). After all, even in the past when Intel has had slightly "inferior" products, they still out-whacked AMD. They are a heavy-weight multinational company with a very strong brand in Europe and America, a resulting combination that is almost too tough to compete with when dealing with the average consumer (and the average manufacturer, not forgetting Intel's past anti-competitive transgressions in supply channels, eg DELL). Where AMD is now concentrating resources is where most profit can be had - server business market and new developing economy market (aka China and India). AMD's new CEO, Rory Read, is clearly more focused on what is realistically achievable. Within that paradigm, I believe that AMD can no longer afford to spend the R&D on desktop processor prestige. The white flag has been raised on that one. It is a loss to consumers and Intel Fanboys alike because it is one less processor market that Intel will be kept honest.
13 6 [Posted by: linuxlowdown  | Date: 04/17/12 09:24:03 AM]
Hating don't change reality. BTW, BD is better at some things and only slightly less at others compared to PII. The fact that you can't even comprehend this shows your lack of understanding yet you bash AMD every chance you get - as if they will change something.
12 7 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 04/17/12 10:12:23 AM]
You are correct beenthere. Bulldozer was the first generation of a new architecture. It was engineered conservatively. This was sensible given AMD's resources and financial position (it could not afford any slip-up whatsoever otherwise they would have been in real budget strife, such was its tenuous financial position with trailing debt). Overall, it did not impress tech journalists. But it was better than Phenom in multi-threading applications - eg encoding H.264 with Handbrake. Of course this is the strength of the architecture that they engineered to scale down nodes. This article is basically saying the big results will come with Steamroller and its refinement of the BD architecture on a smaller node. Personally, I'm very confident of that.
12 3 [Posted by: linuxlowdown  | Date: 04/18/12 03:54:23 AM]

Tough times for years....
Nothing is predictable for a person like me about AMD.
I like "NEVER SETTLE" on the AMD's homepage when Radeon 7970 was announced but it seems they have settled already.
I really am missed AMD.
0 2 [Posted by: Pouria  | Date: 04/17/12 10:18:59 AM]

With AMD's limited resources and man power, they made a good job of making ATI back into competitive business and to challenge Nvidia on its highground. Now one thing is left, improve CPU. Like the saying that says, when you're down there is no other way but up.
0 2 [Posted by: pogsnet  | Date: 04/17/12 10:56:39 AM]

Like everyone else I have my doubts that AMD will pull the rabbit out of the hat with a decent 8 core cpu for years to come. For now I'll just stick with Phenom 1&2 builds. Llano at least was pretty decent despite the slow memory controller and high power consumption.
1 1 [Posted by: nforce4max  | Date: 04/17/12 04:19:20 PM]

I'm a AMD fan. I want to have an astonish AMD platform and get rid of this Intel Core 2 Duo 8400 I'm using here.

But after watching these roadmaps, I don't believe AMD can make it.
1 1 [Posted by: Sby  | Date: 04/18/12 03:59:48 PM]


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