Chicago (IL) – Two Barcelona benchmark charts published on AMD’s website caused quite a stir yesterday: Intel wasn’t happy about outdated performance numbers causing AMD to remove the charts.
In the meantime, Intel had stressed that Xeon performance numbers, which far exceed the numbers used by AMD, are available. And according to Intel, the 2.66 GHz Xeon 5355 does not trail the estimated integer performance of a 2.6 GHz quad-core Opteron by about 20%, but by only about 2% (99.9 vs. 102 points in the Specint_rate2006 benchmark). The 3.0 GHz Xeon 5365, which is shipping in limited numbers at this time, is actually slightly faster than the 2.6 GHz Opteron (106 vs. 102 points) – which is expected to be AMD’s fastest quad-core to be available by the end of this year.
From that perspective, the future does not look favorable for AMD, given the fact that Intel’s 45 nm server chip will be available around the turn of the year and Intel already said that it does expect substantial performance gains in the double-digit range across the board. But the truth of the matter is that we are talking about unreleased products on both ends, with Intel holding the performance lead in products that you can buy today.
So, if AMD has taken down the benchmark numbers, does that mean that Barcelona will not be as fast as AMD claims? Hughes told us that AMD still expects the performance of Barcelona at 2.6 GHz to come in at what the estimate has shown – or “even a bit higher”. However, there is no doubt that the initially available Barcelonas (with up to 2.0 GHz) will not be able to match Intel’s current performance level.
Interestingly enough, plain speed isn’t really the whole story. Power consumption is a performance factor that has not received a whole lot attention. In the light of today’s server environments that try to decrease heat and use the available power as efficiently as possible, this may actually the discipline where the battle between Intel and AMD will be fought. At least according to AMD’s Barcelona website, the firm’s 68w/95w/125w chips will have an advantage over comparable Xeons (65w/80w), at least as long as 65w Xeons are pitched against 68w and 95w Opterons and the 80w Xeon against the 95w Opteron. And yes, the low-power Clovertown processors (50w) were left out of consideration in this comparison.
If industry rumors are right, then AMD will be releasing Barcelona in September and we soon will be able to verify what the processor is really capable of and what impact it may have in the market.