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AMD Barcelona performance promises revealed

$800 CPU paper promises to slay the competition
Tue Jul 03 2007, 15:19
WHILE ENGINEERS ARE working full throttle at making the K10 (10h family) work, performance figures are becoming an integral part of marketing presentations and so on. Recently, we managed to see the sort of performance figures that AMD is promising for Barcelona.

These performance numbers were based on systems using the Opteron 2356, or known to the world of us regular folk as AMD QuadCore at 2.3GHz. The price of this processor is currently set at $796 USD in quantities of 1000, so we'll see what Clovertown at 2.66 GHz (Xeon 5355) can do about it.

So, what will Barcelona deliver?

For starters, SPECint_rate2006 and SPECfp_rate2006 speak the voice of doom for the 366 MHz faster clocked Xeon - and these are the reasons why Intel was downplaying performance of FP and praising the INT.
These figures were from a few months ago, so things may well have changed since then. But in the Integer test, a Barcelona 2.3GHz* yields 21% higher score than Clovertown 2.66 GHz, but Floating Point test leaves a staggering 50% performance deficit for Clovertown, and this is not something 45 nanometre Penryn can solve overnight. Unless, of course the clock deficit for AMD is such that Intel speeds past.

When it comes to comparing Barcelona to Santa Rosa, a 3.0GHz clocked Opteron 2222, Barcelona is in general, around 65-70% faster than the highest-clocked dual-core Opteron. SPECweb99 yields a hefty 67% performance increase, SPECweb99_SSL offers 66%, while SAP-SD offers 70% performance increase.
The highest gain, of over 100% can be seen in SPECweb2005/Ecom benchmark, while smallest gain was in TPC-C SQL2000, where only 42% gain was marked. This was all based on 2P (dual-socket) systems, of course.

In the four-socket arena, Opteron 8222 versus 8356 offers an average of over 60% performance boost, which is not a small thing - given that clock difference is 700MHz. SPECweb99 and SPECweb99_SSL give 68% performance increase, SPECweb2005/Ecom yields another scaling dream (91%), while most modest increase is again, TPC-C SQL2000. Nevertheless, TPC-C Oracle test will yield 75% performance increase while Terminal Services will offer 71%.

Overall, these are very impressive score increase promises. All of the performance increases happened with a processor that has 30% smaller TDP. Opteron x222 is a 120W Max.TDP, while this Barcelona 2356 stays in the 95W range.

The only real question that now remains is whther AMD can execute. Sadly, the company's recent track record does not bode well, with constant delays of products and events. And we'll also wait to see real tests of the Barcelonas rather than paper promises. µ

* Correction The listed SPECint_rate2006 and SPECfp_rate2006 should be compared to a simulated 2.6GHz Barcelona, not a 2.3GHz.


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