AMD: Barcelona based on customer input

Feedback on power consumption and ability to upgrade was key to the design of the quad-core processor, says chipmaker.
Written by Lynn Tan @ Redhat, Contributor
Advanced Micro Devices designed Barcelona, its soon-to-be launched quad-core processor, based on feedback gathered from its customers, a senior executive said.

AMD identified four design goals centered on customer feedback, Tan See Ghee, the company's South Asia technology director, said in a media briefing held in Singapore on Thursday.

The first goal was to have a consistent platform and road map. "This was the first thing that we heard from (customers)," Tan said, noting that, more than ever, staying competitive means offering products with an eye toward future development.

"You have to worry about the platform and also the road map that will bring (you) from the current (product) to tomorrow's product," he said. "So, what we have done, from a design goal, was to minimize the back-end changes and the transition costs, and have processors that will provide a very clear migration path."

The second goal was to ensure seamless upgradability. AMD's customers did not want to go through a "disruptive upgrading path" that might include having to change to a new chipset or vendor, Tan said, noting that such changes inevitably incur higher costs and, more important, pose support problems.

"Today, the IT personnel may be very familiar with a certain platform or a certain chipset, (but) if they have to migrate to a new platform entirely, this will give rise to...support costs," he said.

The third design goal was related to controlling power consumption and minimizing heat output. Offering a next-generation product that uses the same, or a lower, amount of power than the current generation creates a "clear and immediate advantage, because you expect the next-generation product to (have) better performance," he said.

AMD customers also wanted a fully scalable product with no bottlenecks, Tan said, adding that "there's no point having very fast building blocks in a certain segment, (while) the rest of the system has a bottleneck (due to) some limitations in the system design."

After months of speculation, AMD announced that it would start selling its Barcelona quad-core chips in August this year, confirming rumors of a delay.

The first models will be available in standard- and low-power versions, and will run at clock frequencies of up to 2GHz. A higher-power version is scheduled for launch in the fourth quarter of this year. The first servers using the Barcelona chips will start shipping in September.

Lynn Tan of ZDNet Asia reported from Singapore.

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