SAN JOSE, Calif. Advanced Micro Devices tipped more details about its upcoming Barcelona CPU, the industry's first native quad-core x86 processor. An analyst said the news was positive for AMD, especially given recent concerns about whether the CPU had slipped its scheduled ship date.
AMD said Barcelona will ship to OEMs in August and be available in board and system products in September. The chip will offer performance increases of up to 70 percent on some database applications and 40 percent on floating point operations, compared to existing dual-core CPUs.
Barcelona will initially be offered at frequencies up to 2 GHz and in both standard and low power versions. Higher frequency versions will appear before the end of the year, AMD said.
"Up to now they have been pretty coy about when they are shipping, the performance of the chip and its frequency at launch. This will put to rest lots of rumors they were having trouble making the chip," said Nathan Brookwood, principal of market watcher Insight64 (Saratoga, Calif.).
"The only other things I would like to see are some real benchmark numbers instead of percentages. Intel provided detailed performance numbers for its multi-chip package quad-core CPUs long before they shipped," Brookwood added.
Intel will have frequency advantage because its current multi-chip quad core CPUs run at up to 2.67 GHz. "There's a question that needs to be answered about how much frequency will offset architectural advantages" of AMD's slower Barcelona which has four die on the same silicon substrate, Brookwood said.
He estimated AMD would be able to raise the chip's frequency by ten percent a quarter, reaching about 3 GHz by fall 2008.
In April, AMD estimated Barcelona would outperform Intel's existing quad-core CPUs by 20 percent.
AMD's 65nm Barcelona will have to compete with Intel's upcoming 45nm Penryn processors which will also start shopping this year. Beyond that Intel is planning a new micro-architecture called Nehalem which will use 45nm process technology and replace Intel's aging front-side bus with a faster and more versatile Common Systems Interface.
"Nehalem looks like it could be a barn burner because they finally shed the front-side bus for CSI," he said.
Brookwood said he expects AMD will price Barcelona at the top end of the company's existing price range, pushing down its dual-core chips which will likely be discounted.