Day 4 of this series is about the upcoming AMD “Bulldozer” family of processors that is due to be released in Q3 2011. This will be a 32nm processor that will be used in both desktop systems and server systems. It will initially have up to 16-cores in the server version, using a design that is sort of a hybrid between conventional, separate physical cores (like the AMD Opteron 6100 Magny-Cours) and Intel hyper-threading. A block diagram of a Bulldozer “module” is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: AMD Bulldozer module
A single Bulldozer processor would have eight of these modules. Each module has 2MB of shared L2 cache, with up to 16MB of L3 cache that is shared between all of the modules in the physical CPU. This processor will also have a feature that AMD calls Turbo CORE, which has the ability to boost the clock speed of all of the cores by 500MHz, and of fewer cores by an undisclosed, higher amount (subject to the actual TDP rating of the processor). This is pretty similar to the Turbo Boost feature in recent Intel processors.
These are supposed to go into production in Q2 and to formally launch and be available for sale in Q3 of 2011. They will be socket compatible with the current Opteron 6100 Magny-Cours, using the same G34 socket, which will make it easier for system vendors to start using it. AMD has a short video about the Bulldozer available here.
I have high hopes for this processor, since I really want AMD to be a viable competitor to Intel from a performance perspective. If AMD cannot compete with Intel, we will all lose, since Intel will have little incentive to continue to innovate at a rapid pace.