updated 11:40 am EDT, Tue August 24, 2010
AMD Bulldozer to match Sandy Bridge
AMD at the Hot Chips conference today provided insight into the details of its Bulldozer and Bobcat processor platforms. Bulldozer is aimed at performance users and focuses on a new design with distinct but very modular processor cores. As the cores are separate from shared resources, adding more cores takes up relatively little space and allows scalability; AMD promises that the first server-class Opterons using Bulldozer will have 16 cores.
Both these and more mainstream workstation and home performance models will also compete much more closely with Intel's Sandy Bridge. They should be made on a similarly efficient 32 nanometer process and will support the same media instructions, including AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions).
Full chips using Bulldozer won't arrive until late 2011, but the launch should include both pro processors as well as four- to eight-core regular desktop chips (Zambezi) and some higher-end notebooks.
Bobcat is in turn focused on its footprint and power efficiency for notebooks. The architecture is designed partly as a rival to the Intel Atom and, at its lowest power, could consume less than a watt of power. Faster notebooks and low-profile desktops will also reach about 90 percent of a regular chip in half the space. Unlike current Atom designs, Bobcat will support out-of-order instruction handling and work much more like full-speed processors as a result.
AMD's first Bobcat chip, nicknamed Ontario, will be a dual-core example and will have a DirectX 11 (OpenGL 4.0) graphics core inside. It should ship towards the end of this year and will be joined by more advanced models in the future. Customers like HP and more recently Dell have often been the first to adopt AMD hardware, but Apple may be a customer in the months ahead.