Final Thoughts

In the last few years, AMD hasn't really been able to fight against Intel in the high-end CPU market. Pretty much since the release of the Nehalem microarchitecture in late 2008, Intel has held the crown of fastest CPUs and AMD has only been the best option for budget builds. Bulldozer has suffered from delays and recently AMD delayed it even more because the performance didn't meet their expectations. However, Bulldozer could have the potential to shake Intel's position in other than the budget CPU market.

According to leaked product positioning slides, Zambezi is aimed to fight against Intel's Core i5 and i7 lineups. Zambezi will feature up to eight cores, which is twice as many as i7-2600(K)'s four cores. AMD said that they won't join the Hyper-Threading club and they will deliver as many physical cores as Intel delivers physical and virtual cores combined. It looks like AMD is keeping their word, though they're only delivering half as many "FP/SSE cores". Intel will probably still provide the best single-threaded performance but AMDs aggressive approach with many physcial cores may bring them the trophy of best multi-threaded performance. We shall hopefully see this very soon.  

In the server market, AMD's role is a lot more complex. For some HPC applications, AMD offers the best performance at a much lower price. In the midrange, AMD based servers offer more cores (quad-socket) and (in most cases) higher performance for a relatively small price premium over the typical dual-socket Xeon servers. At the same time, if your applications cannot make good use of all those cores, dual-socket Xeon servers can offer a better performance/watt ratio and lower response times. In the high end, Intel Xeon E7 completely dominates, and AMD has left this market for now. In the low power market, Intel's low power Xeons offer a better performance/watt and AMD can only compete when every dollar counts. In most cases, the price of the server CPU is less important in the grand TCO scheme.

In other words, AMD really needs a server CPU with a much higher performance per core and a better performance/watt ratio. TDP Power Cap or configurable TDP helps AMD's server CPUs keep the electricity bill down by avoiding "bursty" power usage. At the same time, with their implementation, TDP Power Cap should have little effect on the real world (not pure throughput benchmarking) performance if you do not lower the TDP too much. We won't be sure until we have measured it, but it looks like a big step in the right direction: lower TCO and more predictable power usage without a (large) performance penalty.

AMD's Future Plans

Second Generation AMD Fusion lineup
Codename Krishna and Wichita Trinity Komodo Sepang Terramar
Architecture Enhanced Bobcat NG Bulldozer NG Bulldozer NG Bulldozer NG Bulldozer
SOI 28nm 32nm 32nm 32nm 32nm
Core count 1-4 2-4 6-10 Up to 10 Up to 20
DX11 IGP Yes Yes No No No
Socket N/A N/A N/A C2012 G2012

Bulldozer will make its way to mainstream CPUs in 2012. Llano's successor, Trinity, will feature up to four next-generation Bulldozer cores. Next-generation (NG) in this context appears to mean that AMD will tweak the architecture because the CPUs will still be manufactured using 32nm SOI. Zambezi's successor, Komodo, will again increase the core count and make it up to 10.

As for the server market, AMD's approach will be a bit more aggressive. AMD will again increase the amount of cores to up to 20 NG Bulldozer cores. Valencia's successor will be 10-core Sepang and Interlagos' will be 20-core Terramar. The server CPUs will also feature PCIe 3.0 support.

Krishna and Wichita will also replace AMD's current Ontario and Zacate APUs. There will be a die shrink from 40nm to 28nm so at this point, Krishna and Wichita look the most interesting from the 2nd gen Fusion lineup. Doubling the cores should yield a nice performance boost in heavily threaded scendarios, though single-threaded performance is still a sore spot for Bobcat compared to other architectures.

Bulldozer's Power Management
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  • stmok - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    Komodo is a CPU that replaces Zambezi. It does not have DX11 IGP. So that should be a "No" in that category. It is not an APU.

    In the "Socket" category, both Trinity and Komodo will use some form of Socket FM infrastructure. AMD currently refers them as Socket FMx (where x = 1, 2, 3, etc). It doesn't mean that both will use the same socket.

    See a thread I've created at forums regarding AMD's 2012 lines.
    (I've collected a good number of official and leaked presentation slides.)
  • jjj - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    Also about Komodo, it has 10 cores not 8.
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    All leaked slides suggest 8 cores. If you have something to proof the 10 cores, then please share it with us..
  • TimCh - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    Here you go

    No need for leaks.
  • stmok - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    The slide you point to is November 9th 2010 for AMD Financial Analyst Day.

    The slide in the thread I've created is dated January 2011 for CES 2011.

    Your info regarding 10-cores is out of date. Its 8-cores for Komodo.
  • inf64 - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    No,look closely in the slide. There is a Correction at the bottom.
    It says:
    Correction,MArch 8,2011

    So they corrected the IGP error in Komodo and corrected the core count number.Now it is 6-10 enhanced/NG Bulldozer cores.
    So yes,Komodo will feature up to 10 Bulldozer+ cores.
  • mino - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    In other words, Komodo is the C2012 part for desktops.

    However there is one issue - Komodo will go for AM3+ OR FM1, it is VERY unlikely AMD would go for another socket in 2012.

    And since there is no PCIe in AM3+ while also no IGP on FM1 chip ... it is more likely they go for FM1 with Komodo actually having Display controller but not having a GPU - the same as some embedded Brazos parts today.

    Last (sensible) option is for AMD to go FM1 with the same setup as Lynnfield.
  • Topweasel - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Nothing you said in this makes sense. AM3+ has PCIe, There isn't an IGP on the chipset for FM1 because no CPU in that socket would be missing it, and Brazos has a barely capable IGP, (40SP unit?) but it isn't just some 2d display controller.
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, July 16, 2011 - link

    I have updated the article to be up-to-date with the slide you provided.
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    Even the link you provided suggests that Komodo will feature a DX11 capable IGP. Note that it says GPU for Komodo but nothing for Zambezi.

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