Electronic Design

1-2-3-4: What Do We Need More Cores For?

Multicore is here to stay, but how many cores do we need? While more typically is better, AMD is looking to fill a gap between dual- and quad-core chips with the tri-core Phenom for desktops. The Phenom likely will start out as a quadcore chip with one core disabled, but it will be priced between two-core and fourcore chips. It will find a home as long as there remains enough of a price gap between its siblings.

Still, power users and servers will push the quad cores to the limit. The latest from Intel, the Quad-Core Xeon 7300 series processors, start with a 50-W, 1.86-GHz version for high-density, lowpower solutions and range up to 130-W, 2.93-GHz chips for high-performance solutions. Pricing starts at $856.

The latest Xeons employ a 1066-Mtransaction/s dedicated highspeed interconnect (DHSI). Intel's QuickPath Interconnect system architecture will be used in chips expected next year. The quad-core Xeons come with 8 Mbytes of L2 cache, half of which can be dedicated to a single core. The chips support Intel's I/O Acceleration Technology and Virtual Machine Device Queues (VMDq).

On the server side, AMD has delivered quad-core Opterons that maintain the triple Direct Connect Architecture HyperTransport links. Like Intel, AMD has its enhanced virtual machine and virtualized I/O support, including AMD's Rapid Virtualization Indexing of nested tables designed to reduce the overhead of virtualmachine monitors (VMMs). Each core's clock in the Opteron is independently controllable.

On the embedded side, AMD released 8- to 25-W versions of its AM2-based, single-core Athlon 64 processors that support error-correction code (ECC) memory for applications like Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Advanced Mezzanine Cards (AMCs).

AMD www.amd.com

Intel www.intel.com

TAGS: Intel
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