AMD delaying Barcelona volume shipments to next year

A bug in Barcelona, AMD's new quad-core server chip, will force the company to delay volume shipments into next year, although the chip is shipping to some high-performance computing customers.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read

AMD will be forced to delay the ramp of its Barcelona server processor after running into a bug, the company has confirmed.

Barcelona, AMD's first quad-core processor for servers, is shipping to some customers in the high-performance computing market. But the company had hoped to start shipping it to a wider variety of customers this month, as well as introduce a faster model that could better compete with Intel's latest Penryn chips.

Unfortunately for AMD, that's going to have to wait, according to a company spokesman. The Tech Report has an excellent description of the problem that AMD encountered with the translation lookaside buffer used in cache memory, which also affects the Phenom desktop chips. I'm not even going to attempt to explain to you exactly what that means, check out Scott Wasson's article for a detailed look at that. Bottom line, however: Barcelona's arrival on the main stage is going to be delayed, again.

Even though the company has developed a workaround for the errata, this is awful news for AMD. Every chip company will come across errata (think of them like bugs in a new OS release) with the arrival of a new chip. Most of them are minor, and can be fixed pretty quickly after launch with a simple code update. This one requires a bit more work, hence the delay. Still, it's far from a disaster: it's not like AMD is recalling the chip.

The problem is more one of confidence in the company's ability to get products out the door. By the time Barcelona really starts to hit its stride in the first quarter of next year, it will have been almost a year since AMD originally intended to launch the chip. AMD needs Barcelona not only as a boost for the company's psyche but also as a profit engine: server chips are way more profitable than PC chips.

And in the meantime, Intel is firing on all cylinders. Its second-generation Penryn quad-core processors are available from server vendors and in standalone boxes from companies like Newegg. And the next generation of chips, called Nehalem, will borrow the design techniques that have made AMD's chips so successful over the last few years.

AMD's stock fell 3.68 percent to a 52-week low of $8.91 Tuesday on the news, which also prompted a financial analyst to cut a revenue estimate. This came on a day when the overall market was up sharply.