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AMD Reinvents the x86 (barcelona)

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I know this is old news to most but i just couldn't resist spamming this info to the world. :)

 

AMD's NEXT-GENERATION PROCESSOR LINE, CODEnamed Torrenza, has gone from a block diagram to a living,breathing piece of silicon. The first incarnation of AMD's redesigned x86 CPU is Barcelona.

Barcelona is a genius. a genuinely new CPU that frees itself entirely of the millstone of the Pentium legacy. It'll do the same for you.

 

amd_barcelona_quad_core_c.jpg

Image of the Barcelona CPU and Intel's Clovertown on the right.

 

Each of Barcelona's four cores incorporates a new vector math unit referred to as SEE128 (128-bit streaming single instruction-multiple-date extensions). The potential for hardcore task sch as full disk encryption, compression, video encoding, 3d rendering, gaming and floating point calculations to name a few not to mention looking for aliens with SETI set at full blast :O

 

Barcelona gives floating point operations their own schedulers (checkout lanes) and runs them twice as fast as 64bit SSE did. AMD claims that Barcelona's per-core floating point performance is more than 80% faster than the present Opteron. Benchmark that :P

And separating integer and floating-point schedulers also accelerates this thing called virtualization, which you may notice is a recurring theme for Barcelona.

 

Nested paging tables is a per-core feature that will light the afterburners on x86 hardware virtualization. A paging table holds the map that translates virtual memory addresses to physical memory addresses, and each CPU core has only one. Virtual machines have to load and store their page tables as they get and lose their slice of the CPU. AMD solved the problem with nested paging tables. Simplified, each VM maintains it's own paging table that stays fixed in place. Instead of loading and saving paging tables as your system flips from VM to VM, your system just supplies the Barcelona with the ID of the virtual machine being activated. The CPU core flips page tables automatically and transparently. This is another feature that's implemented for each core.

 

Mush fuss has been made about power efficiency, but best of x86 power saving schemes is crude. They adjust the clock speed and the operating voltage of the entire CPU, and the selection of the set points is small. Barcelona keeps this technique, but builds on it with inspiration from IBM and Transmeta. Barcelona black out power to individual portions of the chip that are idled, from in-core execution units to on-die bus controllers. This hasn't made it into PCs before because it's very difficult to manage light switches for several "rooms" individually and to make sure that, like a refrigerator light, whenever a door is opened, the lights is on as if it's been burning the whole time. Power savings from these schemes are dramatic. If Barcelona lacked this feature, it would still be a green CPU.

 

Unlike Intel's Core. Barcelona gives each core dedicated L2 cache. and Barcelona incorporates a redesign that reduces cache latency (access delays). Barcelona adds Level 3 cache, a newcomer to the x86 and a page out of IBM's POWER playbook. All four CPU cores in a Barcelona socket will share a single master catalog of recently-retrieved data. A three level cache is a must have for a multicore CPU, and that becomes obvious when you get a demo that switches a L3 on and off.

 

Barcelona is a new CPU, not a doubling of cores and not extensions strapped on here and there. Get ready to be blown away long before it's release. which is scheduled for midyear :)

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actually Intel already had L3 cache on their cpu's previously

 

and L3 cache is great for applications that can take advantage of it, but most apps and games benefit only slightly (ie: a cpu function that only AMD has, or only Intel has, is not going to be all that popular for software programmers....a function that BOTH cpu's have is going to get taken advantage of)

 

I'm excited to see what this cpu will bring to the table. I still love AMD. I love that AMD and Intel are in a never-ending war as it is good for us consumers in both performance and in price

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Intel was damaged badly by AMD when the A64 processors hit the street smacking the Pentium.

 

It looks like the mega/giga hertz wars are over and the core war fight is on.

 

Intel is the Goliath of the processor market to the AMD David.

 

I think the days of incremental improvements in processors is long gone.

 

It took Intel almost three full years to get the Conroe C2D processor to market after the first proof-of-concept prototype was built.

 

If current trends continue, we'll see radically new ways of building processors with wildly divergent results.

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Sure is a very exciting industry to keep pace with. I remember reading an article in Wired magazine a few years back about somehow using manufactured diamonds inside chips instead of Silicon which would allow for much much higher clock cycles since it wouldn't melt from the heat...who knows what the future holds but I'm excited that things haven't stalled out and things are once again heating up.

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Bring it on!!!

 

I'm holding my breath waiting for both a new AMD platform (AM2 is not gonna fly..... why would I want to invest in ddr2 for what is basically the same performance as a s939 board) & a new ATI platform to hit the street (I can't believe it's taken this long for them to release a DX10 board).

 

I'm not a complete "fan boy" of both products (I jumped to Nvidia when ATI didn't really have anything decent in the low-midrange series of cards), but I do know what I normally like and both those brands are it.

 

Hopefully by the end of the year I'll be ready to start doing some major upgrades and ATI/AMD will be ready to offer me a choice.

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for gamers however, the reality isn't really about the cpu, it is all about the gpu.

 

Most games today offload the work to the gpu which is why you'll see dual-core AMD and Intel scores relatively close to each other, especially at 1600x1200 and higher resolution.

 

So if you are a gamer who has a 19" or larger monitor, the cpu is practically moot, it's about the video card(s) that you will use that will make the most difference.

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There are tons of places for CPUs to go. Stop using silicon, start using something else.. crystals? :)

 

I read a paper a while ago on using trinary code.. I probably spelled that wrong. A system that can count more than just 0 and 1. Insane speed increases, but everything'd have to be recoded and redone.

 

I think there's a lot I'll get to see in my lifetime.

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I think we will see a lot in our lifetimes as well. They will keep dribbling out 10% max performance increases and introducing new ideas one at a time forever. It just wouldn't be good business practice to build anything that would actually hold us over for a good period of time.

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it is exciting to see how the cpu wars have been turning out! i dont mind that intel has taken back the crown from amd right now. amd has stolen it once, and im sure they are going to try their hardest to do it again, which means more goodies for us!

 

i think the next thing we need to see out of the gpu industry is cards with lower power requirements. these psu requirements are getting a little ridiculous in my opinion. i mean, a KILOwatt psu? sure, that sounds cool to say, but that is a boatload of power. there has got to be a way to build those cards more efficiently.

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