Posts Tagged ‘magny-cours’

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Quick Take: 6-core “Gulftown” Nehalem-EP Spotted, Tested

August 10, 2009

TechReport is reporting on a Taiwanese overclocker who may be testing a pair of Nehalem 6-core processors (2P) slated for release early in 2010. Likewise, AlienBabelTech mentions a Chinese website, HKEPC, that has preliminary testing completed on the desktop (1P) variant of the 6-core. While these could be different 32nm silicon parts, it is more likely – judging from the CPU-Z outputs and provided package pictures – that these are the same sample SKUs tested as 1P and 2P LGA-1366 components.

CPUzWhat does this mean for AMD and the only 6-core shipping today? Since Intel’s still projecting Q2/2010 for the server part, AMD has a decent opportunity to grow market share for Istanbul. Intel’s biggest rival will be itself – facing a wildly growing number of SKU’s in across its i-line from i5, i7, i8 and i9 “families” with multiple speed and feature variants. Clearly, the non-HT version would stand as a direct competitor to Istanbul’s native 6-core SKUs. Likewise, Istanbul may be no match for the 6-core Nehalem with HT and “turbo core” feature set.

However, with an 8-core “Beckton” Nehalem variant on the horizon, it might be hard to understand just where the Gulftown fits in Intel’s picture. Intel faces a serious production issue, filling fab capacity with 4-core, 6-core and 8-core processors, each with speed, power, socket and HT variants from which to supply high-speed, high-power SKUs and lower-speed, low-power SKUs for 1P, 2P and 4P+ destinations. Doing the simple math with 3 SKU’s per part Intel would be offering the market a minimum of 18 base parts according to their current marketing strategy: 9 with HT/turbo, 9 without HT/turbo. For socket LGA-1366, this could easily mean 40+ SKUs with 1xQPI and 2xQPI variants included (up from 23).

SOLORI’s take: Intel will have to create some interesting “crippling or pricing tricks” to keep Gulftown from canibalizing the Gainstown market. If they follow their “normal” play book, we prodict the next 10-months will play out like this:

  1. Initially there will be no 8-core product for 1P and 2P systems (LGA-1366), allowing for artificially high margins on the 8-core EX chip (LGA-1567), slowing the enevitable canibalization of the 4-core/2P market, and easing production burdens;
  2. Intel will silently and abruptly kill Itanium in favor of “hyper-scale” Nehalem-EX variants;
  3. Gulftown will remain high-power (90-130W TDP) and be positioned against AMD’s G34 systems and Magny-Cours – plotting 12-core against 12-thread;
  4. Intel creates a “socket refresh” (LGA-1566?) to enable “inexpensive” 2P-4P platforms from its Gulftown/Beckton line-up in 2H/2010 (ostensibly to maintain parity with G34) without hurting EX;
  5. Revised, lower-power variants of Gainstown will be positioned against AMD’s C32 target market;
  6. Intel will cut SKUs in favor of higher margins, increasing speed and features for “same dollar” cost;
  7. Non-HT parts will begin to disappear in 4-core configurations completely;
  8. Intel’s AES enhancements in Gulftown will allow it to further differentiate itself in storage and security markets;

It would be a mistake for Intel to continue growing SKU count or provide too much overlap between 4-core HT and 6-core non-HT offerings. If purchasing trends soften in 4Q/09 and remain (relatively) flat through 2Q/10, Intel will benefit from a leaner, well differentiated line-up. AMD has already announced a “leaner” plan for G34/C32. If all goes well at the fabs, 1H/2010 will be a good ole fashioned street fight between blue and green.

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Shanghai Economics 101

April 30, 2009

Before the release of the Istanbul 6-core processor we wanted to preview the CAPEX comparisons we’ve been working on between today’s Opteron (Shanghai) and today’s Nehalem-EP. The results are pretty startling and mostly due to the Nahelem-EP’s limited memory addressing capability. Here are the raw numbers for comparable performance systems (i.e. high-end):

Nehalem-EP Configuration Street $
Shanghai HT3 Configuration Street $
Savings $ Savings %
2P/8C, Nehalem-EP, W5580 3.2GHz, 6.4GT QPI with 24GB DDR3/1333 $7,017.69   2P/8C Shanghai, 2393 SE, 3.1GHz, 4.4GT HT3 with 32GB DDR2/800 $5,892.12   $1,125.57 16.04%
2P/8C, Nehalem-EP, W5580 3.2GHz, 6.4GT QPI with 48GB DDR3/1066 $7,755.99   2P/8C Shanghai, 2393 SE, 3.1GHz, 4.4GT HT3 with 48GB DDR2/800 $6,352.12   $1,403.87 18.10%
2P/8C, Nehalem-EP, W5580 3.2GHz, 6.4GT QPI with 96GB DDR3/1066 $21,969.99   2P/8C Shanghai, 2393 SE, 3.1GHz, 4.4GT HT3 with 96GB DDR2/667 $11,968.72   $10,001.27 45.52%
2P/8C, Nehalem-EP, W5580 3.2GHz, 6.4GT QPI with 144GB DDR3/800 $30,029.19   2P/8C Shanghai, 2393 SE, 3.1GHz, 4.4GT HT3 with 128GB DDR2/533 $14,300.92   $15,728.27 52.38%
               
2P/8C, Nehalem-EP, W5580 3.2GHz, 6.4GT QPI with 96GB DDR3/1066 $21,969.99   4P/16C Shanghai, 8393 SE, 3.1GHz, 4.4GT HT3 with 96GB DDR2/800 $17,512.87   $4,457.12 20.29%
2P/8C, Nehalem-EP, W5580 3.2GHz, 6.4GT QPI with 144GB DDR3/800 $30,029.19   4P/16C Shanghai, 8393 SE, 3.1GHz, 4.4GT HT3 with 192GB DDR2/667 $28,746.07   $1,283.12 4.27%
2 x 2P/8C, Nehalem-EP, W5580 3.2GHz, 6.4GT QPI with 144GB (288GB total) DDR3/800 $60,058.38   1 x 4P/16C Shanghai, 8393 SE, 3.1GHz, 4.4GT HT3 with 256GB DDR2/533 $33,410.47   $26,647.92 44.37%

Even the 4-socket Shanghai 8393SE averages 23% lower implementation cost over Nehalem-EP and produces 16 “real” cores versus 8 “real” cores in the process. Even at 50% theoretical efficiency using Nehalem’s SMT, the 4P Shanghai represents a solid choice in the performance segment. An Istanbul drop-in upgrade spread’s the gulf in capabilities even wider.

Based on today’s economics and the history of seamless vMotion between Opteron processors, 4P/24C Istanbul is a solid will be a no-brainer investment. With 2P/24C and 4P/48C Magny-Cours on the way to handle the “really big” tasks, a Shanghai-Istanbul Eco-System looks like an economic stimulus all its own.

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Magny-Cours Spotted

April 29, 2009
Magny-Cours, 12-core Processor

Magny-Cours, 12-core Processor

AMD’s next generation “G34″ socket Magny-Cours processor was spotted recently by XbitLabs running in AMD’s 4-way test mule platform. We’ve talked about Magny-Cours and socket-G34 before, but had no picture until now. The multi-chip module (MCM) heritage is obvious given it’s rectangular shape.

Critical for AMD will be HT3+DCA2 efficiency and memory bandwidth to counter the apparent success of Nehalem-EP’s SMT technology. Although AMD does not consider hyperthreading to be a viable technology for them, it appears to be working for Intel in benchmark cases.

While seems logical that more “physical” cores should scale better than the “logical” cores provided by SMT, Intel is making some ground of legacy “physical core” systems, demonstrating what appears to be a linear scaling in VMmark. However, Intel has a fine reputation for chasing – and mastering – benchmark performance only to show marginal gains in real-world applications.

Meanwhile, the presure mounts on Instanbul’s successful launch in June with white box vendors making ready for the next wave of “product release buzz” to stimulate sinking sales. Decision makers will have a lot of spreadsheet work to do to determine where the real price performance lies. Based on the high-cost of dense DDR3 and DDR2, the 16-DIMM/CPU advantage is weighing heavily on AMD’s side from a CAPEX and OPEX perspective (DDR2 is already a well-entrenched component of all socket-F platforms).

Up to now, Intel’s big benchmark winners have been the W5580 and X5570 with $1,700 and $1,500 unit prices, respectively. Compounded with high-cost DDR3 dual-rank memory, or reduction in memory bandwidth (which eliminates a significant advantage), the high-end Nehalem-EP is temporarily caught in an economic bind, severely limiting its price-performance suitability.

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Opteron Turns 6: Plus Istanbul and a New Road-map

April 22, 2009

AMD released an updated technology road-map for it’s Opteron processor family, beginning with the early availability of Istanbul – its Socket-F compatible 6-core processor – shipping for revenue in May and available from OEM’s in June. This information was delivered in a webcast today.

AMD Istanbul 6-core Processor

AMD Istanbul 6-core Processor

“…up to 30 percent more performance within the same power envelope and on the same platform as current Quad-Core AMD Opteron…”

Additionally, AMD updated the availability of its Direct Connect Architecture 2.0 to be available only in the Opteron 4000 and 6000 series (socket C32 and G34, respectively). Companies waiting for the 12-core “Magny-Cours” processor will have to switch to the G34 platform in 2010. AMD announced that it is already shipping this 45nm part to sampling partners, and some customers will receive parts in 2H/2009. Magny-Cours is expected to be available from OEM’s and system vendors in 1H/2010.

Opteron 4000 series is also planned for introduction in 2010 for 1P and 2P servers and designed to address virtualized Web and cloud computing environments. The 4000 series will launch with 4- and 6-core processors…”

AMD believes, with core counts on the rise, dense computing (HPC and data center virtualization or cloud) will rely on the 4000 series and its more “green friendly” low power parts called “EE” offering comparable performance at 40W average power. This will create a differential in the server space between 4000 and 6000 (much like 2000 and 8000 today) but with overlap in the 2P market (unlike 2000/8000). The 6000 series is envisioned as a “high performance computing” part where power sensitivity is not the major concern. Read the rest of this entry ?

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