AMD recently produced some impressive Barcelona 16-core (4-socket quad-core) scores of just over 4000 on the POV benchmark. Charlie Demerjian estimates that these are probably 1.8 GHz pre-production low-power 65W TDP Barcelona chips. Intel decided to put the beat-down on these Barcelona numbers by showing off their own "V8" 3.0 GHz 8-core (2-socket quad-core) system getting a POV score of 4933. While these are peak-power 120W TDP 3.0 GHz CPUs, there are only 8 cores overtaking a 4-socket 16 core Barcelona system. Furthermore, 2-socket systems always cost less (hardware costs and software licensing) and use less power than 4-socket systems.
This is bad news for AMD because the Intel Clovertown CPUs shown in these benchmarks are from a generation of products Intel started shipping last November. While AMD's Barcelona has the potential to be an Intel quad-core killer (if it launches on-time and in sufficient quantities at 2.8 GHz) but rumors that AMD is falling behind on schedule on Barcelona isn't a good sign. Furthermore, Intel isn't showing any signs of easing up their "cadence" with 45-nm High-K low-leakage "Penryn" processors launching towards the end of the year which has already shown some shocking performance numbers and pre-production clock speeds of 3.33 GHz. Intel has consistently delivered their Core 2 products on time or slightly ahead of schedule while AMD has historically been plagued with manufacturing delays.
When asked about Intel's cadence and nanometer advantage, AMD stated that nanometers don't matter to consumers and that they don't buy nanometers. While it's true that customers don't care about CPU manufacturing and nanometer nor do they even know what a nanometer means in microprocessors, nanometers is the difference between AMD bleeding red ink and surviving Intel's onslaught. AMD was happy when they finally released their 65-nm mainstream parts but they're still currently struggling to shift their current high-end CPUs and mobile processors to 65-nm while Intel is already threatening to release their higher-yield 45-nm parts at the end of the year.
In the processor business, yield equals life because higher-yield parts means lower production costs and healthy profit margins. So long as Intel has a nanometer and yield advantage over AMD, they will be able to command healthy margins while pressuring AMD to bleed red ink or lose market share. AMD is fully aware of this which is why they're pushing hard to release their own 45-nm parts based on a brand new "wet lithography" process by the middle of 2008. That seems like a very aggressive and optimistic schedule for AMD since they haven't even completed their 65-nm transition yet, but AMD is fighting for survival and the clock is ticking.