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AMD talks up Steamroller architecture at Hotchips conference

Still no word on Piledriver aside from Fusion
Wed Aug 29 2012, 13:55
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CHIP DESIGNER AMD has claimed that its upcoming Steamroller processor architecture will deliver a 30 percent increase in operations per clock cycle.

AMD CTO Mark Papermaster took to the stage at the Hotchips conference to talk up the firm's hetrogenous computing architecture, as he has done for the past year. However Papermaster also spent a few moments talking about Steamroller, the architecture that will precede Piledriver, claiming it has a 30 percent increase in operations per clock cycle and significantly improved branch prediction.

Papermaster said the Steamroller architecture will feature more instruction cache, that cache misses will be reduced by 30 percent with a 20 percent reduction in mistaken branch predictions. He also claimed that Piledriver will use between 15 and 30 percent less power than Bulldozer, saying that this will be equivilent to a process node jump.

"it's about improving the integer and floating point execution itself, it's about performance per watt [...] it's not a pure speed and feeds race, it hasn't been for the last several years," said Papermaster.

AMD is hoping that by allowing developers to make use of existing programming languages such as C, C++ and Java, and giving them access to vast amounts of system memory, it will allow the firm to bypass the problems associated with accelerator-based computing. The firm is also pushing OpenCL as an alternative to Nvidia's Cuda framework, but listening to Papermaster it seemed clear that AMD is hoping that allowing developers to stick with more traditional programming languages will lead them to opt for AMD hardware.

AMD's Bulldozer architecture was, on paper at least, set to deliver a step change in performance. But the firm delayed launching it and when it did arrive the architecture was a major disappointment. Whether the firm's customers will wait until Steamroller is the big question.

Given that AMD has yet to deploy Piledriver outside of its mid-range consumer accelerated processor units, the firm needs to iterate its development cycle quickly in order to first get Piledriver out to its enthusiast and Opteron parts then move on to Steamroller before Intel brings out Haswell, which is expected towards the end of next year. µ


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