With rumors brewing that Intel Corp. (INTC) may be delaying its 14 nanometer Broadwell die shrink to 2015, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) did its best to seize the spotlight showing off a new roadmap with an aggressive schedule of releases for next year.
The biggest release of the year will arguably be the Seattle server processor, AMD’s first ARM architecture design.
The server market has seen significantly more competition from an architecture standpoint than the personal computer CPU market in recent years. Yet ARM has yet to make significant inroads in this lucrative space. Currently the server chip market is dominated by Intel who relies on the x86 architecture.
AMD has long supported x86 as well, and its x86 chips are well regarded among supercomputer builders as delivering strong multi-threaded performance and performance-per-cost, though trailing Intel’s more expensive cores in pure single threaded performance.
Seattle will come in 8- and 16-core varieties, with clock speeds “at or greater than 2 GHz”. The chip is a modified ARM Cortex-A57 IP core, which AMD is licensing from ARM Holdings Plc (LON:ARM). AMD looks to integrated a powerful ensemble of helper cores with the new die, including compression and “server caliber” encryption engines, plus 10 GbE networking support. AMD says the core should be able to deliver 2-4 times the performance of the Opteron X-Series, its current low power option, while offering “significant” reductions to the TDP (power consumption) over comparable X-Series designs. Seattle drops in H2 2014.
Seattle is the highlight of AMD’s roadmap.
AMD also plans on offering a fresh server APU (accelerated processing unit) dubbed Berlin, a successor to the Opteron 3300 Series. The processor will be AMD’s most powerful core yet on the 28 nm node, which was introduced with the aforementioned X-Series. It incorporates a new core design — Steamroller — and is expected to pack double the performance of its predecessor.
The on-die GPU could be useful for serving better graphics to virtual machines using technologies like Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) RemoteFX. The processor also supports AMD’s new Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA), which allows improved performance in optimized apps via uniform memory access between the GPU and CPU. Berlin will land in H1 2014.
Also scheduled for Q1 2014 is Warsaw, a successor on the high-end to the Opteron 6300 Series. These 12- and 16-core chips are designed for two- and four-socket systems. They’re aimed at high end clients.
All in all, it looks like an aggressive year for AMD on the server end. If it can keep prices down, it may do quite well in this space.
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