There's no question the channel is eager to get its hands on Advanced Micro Devices' first quad-core x86 microprocessor. Monday's belated launch of the long-awaited server chip code-named Barcelona finally brings to market the "game-changing" technology AMD is promising with what it calls the "world's most advanced x86 processor ever designed and manufactured."
System builders who received samples a week or two ahead of today's worldwide launch say they aren't ready to issue benchmarks just yet. Nevertheless, sources tell ChannelWeb that the processor AMD calls "the first native quad-core" is faster than they had anticipated. They say three key advances are testing out as advertised -- a tri-level memory cache hierarchy with fully shared L3 cache for all four cores, a floating point unit with 2x128-bit loads/cycle, and independent power supplies for each of the processor's four cores and to the memory controller. The last feature distinguishes AMD's quad-core product from Intel's, in that it's possible to idle one, two or three CPU cores for a workload to better manage power consumption.