AMD Aims to Improve Bulldozer Performance-per-Watt by Up to 50% by 2014

AMD Plans to Boost Micro-Architectural Performance of Its Chips with Next-Gen Designs

by Anton Shilov
10/12/2011 | 03:10 PM

The long-awaited Bulldozer micro-architecture was so late to market that it fails to impress and its performance looks pale in comparison with the latest central processing units from Intel Corp. based on Sandy Bridge micro-architecture. Nonetheless, AMD remains optimistic and expects its next-generation designs to boost performance-per-watt of its products by up to 50% by 2014.


AMD has a rather strong and clear roadmap for the period of the following three years with the aim to increase performance-per-watt of its high-performance cores by approximately 10% - 15% every year. In practice, this transforms into 33% - 52% speed boost of Excavator micro-architecture compared to Bulldozer. Technologically, AMD wants to improve IPC (instructions per clock) performance and reduce power consumption at the same time, which transforms into higher clock-speeds.

What remains to be seen is actual execution of the roadmap and actual, not micro-architectural performance-per-watt, improvements of performance. For example, we do know that next year AMD plans to roll-out eight-core Vishera processors for desktops and ten-core and twenty-core chips for servers based on Piledriver micro-architecture, which means that server chips will receive higher performance boost than desktop processors. It is unclear whether the world will see server central processing units with 12/24 cores based on Steamroller and 14/28 cores powered by Excavator micro-architectures in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

For AMD, it is crucial to execute its plans precisely and consistently. The Bulldozer fiasco does not have a lot to do with the micro-architecture itself, but has to do with the fact that the Zambezi/Interlagos chips are late by years. A good thing, however, is that Bulldozer micro-architecture is very scalable in terms of clock-speeds and core-count. AMD needs to quickly execute its plan and to release follow-ups to Bulldozer rather sooner than later.

The success of AMD’s execution is also conditioned by the success of Globalfoundries. The Steamroller-generation (2013) chips will be made using 28nm process technology, whereas Excavator chips will need to be made using 20nm or thinner technology in 2014. Unfortunately for AMD, in 2014 its arch-rival Intel will have 14nm process technology in its hands and therefore the Excavator@20nm may not be enough to fight the major competitor…