AMD hopes Barcelona demos whet IT's appetite

The quad-core server chip won't appear until later this year, but AMD's trying to show potential customers the chips are up and running.

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
Advanced Micro Devices' Barcelona processor is getting closer to making its debut, but demonstrations will have to do for now.

At Computex on Tuesday, the company plans to demonstrate three servers running Barcelona, a quad-core server processor. Three system builders--Supermicro, Tyan and Uniwide--will be running servers using Barcelona in a variety of configurations, said Steve Demski, Opteron product manager.

The quad-core server processor has been eagerly anticipated by AMD fans as the company tries to fight back against Intel's quad-core server processors.

AMD held a decisive performance advantage over its larger rival for a few years until Intel's Core generation of chips arrived, and AMD has been scrambling ever since. It's currently trying to sell its dual-core Opteron chips by slashing prices, with predictable results on the bottom line.

Barcelona is expected to help end the skid as AMD's first quad-core product. Servers with the chip are expected in the third quarter, while a desktop version will arrive later in the year. Desktop PCs may not need four cores just yet, but many server customers will take all the performance you can throw at them.

The chip will fit into existing systems, but AMD and its partners are hoping to encourage new system purchases with something called "dual dynamic power management." This essentially allows the cores to operate at a lower voltage while the memory controller is uploading data onto the chip. It also works in reverse, restricting voltage required by the memory controller while the cores are processing data.

Users will need a new motherboard to take advantage of that feature, Demski said. AMD hasn't calculated the power savings yet, but users can expect a 3 percent to 10 percent performance improvement from the dual power management scheme, compared with a Barcelona chip running under the old unified plan, he said.