What might Westmere mean for AMD?

Now that both AMD and Intel have laid down their roadmaps for 2009 and 2010, we can have a little fun and start speculating about how the two competitors might match up. AMD has made it clear that it will stick with its 45nm Deneb core—the one that powers current Phenom IIs—through 2010. As for Intel, it’s planning two waves of Core i7 derivatives: 45nm quad-core parts later this year (Lynnfield and Clarksfield) followed by 32nm dual-core CPUs (Clarkdale and Arrandale) in late 2009 or early 2010.

If the flurry of code names leaves you scratching your head, just check out the official roadmaps below:

What does this mean for AMD? Based on how current chips perform and what Intel has disclosed about its future 32nm processors, we can make some educated guesses. Here’s how I predict things are going to go down on the desktop.

Right now, AMD’s Phenom IIs are essentially competitive with Intel’s 45nm Core 2 Quads. When Lynnfield comes out later this year with a Core i7-derived architecture, four cores, and eight threads, we can probably count on it outperforming the Phenom II overall—even if it’s not quite as fast as the Core i7 clock for clock. AMD could foreseeably compensate by raising clock speeds, but I expect the firm is likelier to simply cut prices and offer slightly lower performance at a discount.

So, what happens when 32nm Clarkdale processors roll out, presumably early next year? With two cores, four threads, and a built-in graphics core, Clarkdale will likely inhabit a lower price bracket than quad-core/eight-thread Lynnfield and Core i7 offerings. And, if my first assumption is right, that would pit it right against the Phenom II.

I think we might very well end up with a close race between the Phenom II and Clarkdale. AMD’s processors will have more cores, but the Intel chips should have better clock-for-clock performance and the ability to scale to higher clock speeds. Just look at current benchmarks: in Worldbench, the 3.33GHz Core 2 Duo E8600 is actually faster than the 3GHz Phenom II X4 940 overall. In several media encoding tests, a single 3.2GHz Core i7 manages to outrun dual Core 2 Quads running at the same speed.

I really wouldn’t be surprised to see Clarkdale keep up with or even outperform quad-core Phenom IIs overall, with the AMD chips pulling ahead in heavily multi-threaded apps (like, say, 3D rendering). Assuming AMD can refine its 45nm process and keep power consumption low enough, that might not be such a bad matchup—and it certainly wouldn’t be as bad as pitting Phenom IIs against 32nm Core i7 derivatives with four cores. Intel could clip AMD’s margins by offering Clarkdale processors at bargain-basement prices, though, which shouldn’t be hard with two small dies. (The cost of producing a big die like the Phenom II’s is greater.) Also, no matter how much AMD refines its process, Intel should have a significant power efficiency advantage.

What about notebooks? I won’t make detailed predictions here, because I’m not quite as familiar with the mobile end of the CPU market, but we know several things for sure: on the Intel front, Lynnfield and Clarkdale will both have mobile siblings. On the AMD side, a dual-core Turion X2 successor code-named Caspian will roll out this year, followed by a quad-core Champlain chip in 2010. I doubt shoving a 45nm quad-core processor into a notebook will be all that practical even next year, though, so I think AMD may choose to focus more on Conesus and Geneva—both dual-core chips for affordable and ultraportable notebooks.

We’ve already caught a glimpse of Conesus’ potential in the form of the Athlon Neo, which is that chip’s single-core little brother. The Athlon Neo powers HP’s Pavilion dv2, a $699 notebook that weighs just 3.8 pounds and features a 12.1″ 1280×800 display, Mobility Radeon HD integrated graphics, and Windows Vista. In many ways, that seems like the sweet spot between netbooks and full-featured laptops.

Intel will undoubtedly attempt to fill that same niche with its own batch of processors, but I think AMD will be in a uniquely privileged position here thanks to its integrated graphics. Even Clarkdale’s mobile sibling, Arrandale, will have an IGP with the same lackluster underpinnings as today’s GMA X4500. AMD should have no trouble pitching slower CPUs with faster graphics in a market where CPU performance really isn’t that big a concern.

All in all, AMD will probably be in a very tough position until it introduces its next-gen Bulldozer architecture in 2011, but it seems like the company could manage to get by in the lower end of the market even against 32nm Nehalem derivatives (assuming it survives the current economic crisis, of course). Bulldozer will really need to deliver, though, because it should come out right as Intel hits its next “tock” with Sandy Bridge, a microarchitectural refresh based on 32nm technology.

Comments closed
    • Kougar
    • 11 years ago

    /[<"AMD could foreseeably compensate by raising clock speeds, but I expect the firm is likelier to simply cut prices and offer slightly lower performance at a discount."<]/ They already had to cut Phenom II prices once because Intel lowered theirs. They should have a little more room to work with, but they really can't cut them much further if they want to stay a going concern. Ordinarily they could sell them break-even or at a marginal loss... but AMD has several years of piled up, high % rate debt. They need to turn a modorate profit just to pay off the accruing interest and begin working down the principle.

    • Ushio01
    • 11 years ago

    So intel’s roadmap is basically

    highend is tri channel ddr3
    45nm quad core nehalem
    32nm 6 core nehalem
    32nm 6 core sandy bridge
    22nm 8 core sandy bridge

    mainstream dual channel ddr3
    45nm quad core nehalem
    32nm dual core nehalem with graphics core
    32nm dual core sandy bridge with graphics core
    22nm ? core sandy bridge with graphics core

    • clone
    • 11 years ago

    couldn’t AMD release a 780g gpu on the same package as a Phenom II dual core using the space made available?

    or is AMD pushing for another all in one silicon solution?

    • Hattig
    • 11 years ago

    AMD were first, Intel soon after.

    If talking about Intel, it’s about their SMT implementation.

    If talking about AMD, it’s about their interconnect.

    Simple. Neither used the term to capitalise on the other’s marketing I’m sure.

    Is AMD finally including SMT in Bulldozer? Or are they forgetting about it again?

      • Anonymous Gerbll
      • 11 years ago

      /[<"Is AMD finally including SMT in Bulldozer?"<]/ I don't see a reason for them not to add SMT. As long as the acronym for it doesn't become QPI. 😛 There haven't been any recent rumors on it either.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 11 years ago

        lol, given the acronym confusion and recent CPU numbering schemes it wouldn’t surprise me. Quad Parallel Integration…or something 😀

          • Hattig
          • 11 years ago

          Yeah, “Quad Process Interleaving” 😀

          And I think AMD will try for a four-thread implementation of SMT when they do things, not the two thread that Intel implements.

            • Anonymous Gerbll
            • 11 years ago

            Or maybe “Quick Parallel Instructions” if they wanted to add some confusion. Perhaps “Quantum Parallel Instructions”; reminds me of the QuantiSpeed marketing. QuantiSpeed2Now!.

            Quad Cores, with Quad Threads and Quad Channel Memory!

            • MadManOriginal
            • 11 years ago

            QuantiSpeed4Now! Which leaves room open for higher multiples of speed 🙂

        • Voldenuit
        • 11 years ago

        Yeah. It’s especially weird since the Alpha was the first commercial CPU to have SMT, and most of the Athlon XP and 64 architects at AMD were ex-DEC.

        Maybe the problem lies in patents?

    • ish718
    • 11 years ago

    Hyper Threading Technology, Intel’s proprietary technology. The official acronym is HTT, sometimes referred to as HT for short….
    BUT WAIT!!? HOW CAN THIS BE?!!!
    AMD’s HyperTransport is called HT as well, OMFG !!! THIS CAN’T POSSIBLY HAPPEN!!

    geez, big deal…

      • tfp
      • 11 years ago

      I’m not sure if it really is Intel IP, Sun and I believe IBM are using the same thing on server chips.

    • Krogoth
    • 11 years ago

    I love internet drama…….

    • Joel H.
    • 11 years ago

    It’s HT, not HTT. Arguing it isn’t going to change that. 😛

    • ihira
    • 11 years ago

    No mainstream intel 32nm quad-cores on the plan?

    I want to jump on the 32nm bandwagon but not a dualcore this late.
    The 6core highend seems a bit extreme for my needs and most likely will cost a lot due to its highend class and X58 chipset.
    hmmmm

    • bogbox
    • 11 years ago

    They are cuting funds from research.
    AMD has a very bad research plan.( 2 years of Deneb? )
    I not know if AMD will be here in 2011.
    AMD need a nettop or something very similar to become like VIA.(is bad but VIA is stil here.)
    In few years AMD will become the next ultra low performer.

      • shank15217
      • 11 years ago

      They are in a better position now than they were a year ago. Your analysis doesn’t make much sense.

      • Johnny5
      • 11 years ago

      The second half of the graph isn’t even exponential (well a power function). Could this be the end?

        • rootheday
        • 11 years ago

        The next step past SandyBridge (32nm) is IvyBridge (22nm) in late 2011. I would guess ~30% performance bump – total of 13x multiplier over the baseline performane (Lakeport/Calistoga in 2006). That puts you in a 3DMark 2006 range around 5000. Not bad for an IGP.

          • Meadows
          • 11 years ago

          Except 3DMark 2006 will be ripe old by 2011, so that puts things in a different light.

      • Meadows
      • 11 years ago

      Sure, sure. The proof is in the pudding.
      Three times better than excrement is not much closer to a rose.

    • hellstrider
    • 11 years ago

    whatever happened to Techreport AM3 Phenom II review???

    also, there’s no way AMD is going to keep this roadmap, they will come up with something competitive in the next year or so, definitely before 2011. I think they will adopt the sneaky approach ATI pulled with introduction of HD4850/4870, letting Intel think that they got nothing when if fact they are improving AM3 Phenoms (Phenom III anyone)?

    Check out what happened to graphics market after the introduction of HD4850/4870, so I expect the same thing for the processors to happen 🙂

      • Cyril
      • 11 years ago

      q[< whatever happened to Techreport AM3 Phenom II review???<]q Stay tuned.

    • Krogoth
    • 11 years ago

    AMD just needs to keep their platform cost attractive to OEM guys. CPU performance isn’t going in leaps and bounds like it back fifteen years ago.

    Intel is clearly not in a major rush to push out its next generation products. They are still milking out “Core 2” generation parts. Core i7 platform still commands a hefty premium.

      • KhronoDevil
      • 11 years ago

      Did you read the article?

      “So, what happens when 32nm Clarkdale processors roll out, presumably early next year? With two cores, four threads, and a built-in graphics core, Clarkdale will likely inhabit a lower price bracket than quad-core/eight-thread Lynnfield and Core i7 offerings. And, if my first assumption is right, that would pit it right against the Phenom II.”

      Intel has just announced it is spending 7B on upgrading 4 Fabs in the US to 32nm. A Dual Core 32nm CPU + Integrated Graphics would be far cheaper to make than a single Quad Core at 45nm. AMD has some serious threats to its only competitive line that is making decent margins.

      Also I can seen a huge problem with AMD going for 32nm and a new architecture in 1 step.

    • PeterD
    • 11 years ago

    Considering the enormous superfluous amount of processing power current µp’s offer the average consumer, I think it’s highly possible AMD survives against more powerfull competitors.
    More power doesn’t offer a benefit anymore for lots of applications.
    First of all: the most frequently used applications are e-mail and browsing, for which the power of your pc’s isn’t even crucial.
    Secondly: office applications can all do with current mediocre µp’s.
    So, the home user will only need stronger µp’s if he’s a power gamer, or a video editing enthusiast.
    Otherwise: home users don’t need strong pc’s.
    At the office, you aren’t supposed to play games or edit video’s.
    So, on the business side only certain industries need stronger pc’s.
    It might be quit intelligent of AMD not to put stronger µp’s on the drawing table during the current recession.

      • KhronoDevil
      • 11 years ago

      Intel has a range of CPU, most people will not be buying i7. i5 should be very competitive with Ph2. What AMD has to worry about is how fast and how cheap is Intels bottom end going to be.

      32nm Dual Core CPU with HTT + Integrated Graphics is expected to be very cheap and offer far better performance than 45nm 8600 + X4500. The motherboards are expected to be very cheap as well because they are simpler than P3X – X48 boards. Intel is offering OEMs something that they will be drooling over.

      • vikramsbox
      • 11 years ago

      agree. I used to be an AMD user but moved to intel after reading the C2D reviews. First with P2D-2160 then C2d-E7200. I haven’t enjoyed it. First, platform costs on intel are more- IGP sucks even to reduce monitor gamma; then AMD platforms are quicker, though they fall behind on CPU intensice tasks. But in launching programs and switching, even multitasking, AMD is better. Also HDD’s seem to get a new lease of life with AMD MB’s. My 1.9GHz laptop and 2.2GHz X2 desktop outrun my E7200 desktop system in Office tasks! Irony is that my intel desktop had to be fitted with 500GB Seagate 32MB HDD, to be quick, while laptop has 120GB 5400rpm hdd and AMD desktop has 80GB samsung ata! AMD desktop is quicker even though its HDD has 20MB/s vs Seagate HDD in intel has 120MB/s speed! ha ha. I swore that my next system would be AMD! I love AMD.

    • shank15217
    • 11 years ago

    AMD needs to introduce HT in their cores. Its such a huge boost for so many applications.

    • axeman
    • 11 years ago

    A bit part of the challenge AMD faces is falling further and further behind with process tech. I seem to recall AMD getting 90nm parts out the door soon after Intel. By current roadmaps, they will be more than a year behind Intel on shipping 32nm parts. Combined with larger dies and lower IPC, things to not look good, but I’m still rooting for the underdog. They’ve manage to stick it out so far, and Intel regaining a virtual monopoly will not be good for anyone, well, except Intel.

      • PeterD
      • 11 years ago

      Who knows… Not every car company produces a Porsche-killer.

        • swaaye
        • 11 years ago

        Intel builds everything from the elite sportscar to the budget subcompact.

    • Meadows
    • 11 years ago

    It’s a bit disturbing that Deneb will remain the best they have to offer until 2011, while all other models are essentially retarded in comparison.

      • ish718
      • 11 years ago

      Its more than disturbing, it makes my brain hurt!

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        Excuse me, your what?

          • FubbHead
          • 11 years ago

          You wouldn’t know 😉

            • Meadows
            • 11 years ago

            Come outside and we’ll settle this.

            • eitje
            • 11 years ago

            braino a braino.

    • Thanato
    • 11 years ago

    I think consumers will stop caring for the top of the line processors. All in all if you can enjoy your video games and compress your video fast enough with a 100$ processor then that’s what will sell. Look at the netbook market 30% of computers sold, dam and their cpus suck. I think smaller computers will be more important to people than top of line ones. Now there are a lot of people that need the power for work related stuff, cg graphics, science, high end processors suit them better. Now if software took a giant leap forward and there was some amazing tools for the everyday joe, i mean truly amazing, incredible graphics followed with space age feeling human interfaces with software then I can see people continuing to care about high end. But when you think about that, then you think software for gpu’s.

    Software is slower to develop than hardware, so think smaller for the future and not faster. Someone’s got to close the broadening hole in the consumer computer market.

    My 2 cents.

      • PeterD
      • 11 years ago

      RIght so.
      It’s like cars, you know: you don’t need a bus, so you don’t buy one.
      The market will split up in a high

      • KhronoDevil
      • 11 years ago

      Thats why Intel releases a range of CPUs to target different peoples needs.

        • Thanato
        • 11 years ago

        Intel is a paranoid company, and so far Murphy’s law has been kept. I think Intel will continue to follow Murphy’s law despite the fact that software isn’t keeping up. Paranoid that there might not be money to made with high end cpu’s Intel is going to have clear out the cpu’s that will compete with the newer cpu sales. hehe this is just my speculation, speculat’n is fun.

        Now the company that can see what the consumer wants and give it to em first, and give it to em good is the one thats going to take more market shares. The markets may be a change’n.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 11 years ago

          I am pretty sure neither Intel nor any other company tries try to follow b[

            • =assassin=
            • 11 years ago

            lol good one.

            • ssidbroadcast
            • 11 years ago

            He’s mixing them up with AMD…

            • Krogoth
            • 11 years ago

            You forgot the addendum.

            “When it goes wrong, it usually goes out with spectacular results…..” 😉

          • eitje
          • 11 years ago

          maybe you meant Godwin’s Law?

            • MadManOriginal
            • 11 years ago

            No Nazis or Hitler mentioned…I’m sure he meant Moore’s Law and got mixed up with the ‘m’ names.

            • eitje
            • 11 years ago

            perhaps Hammurabi’s Code, then?

            • Thanato
            • 11 years ago

            lol I ment Moores law, I’m such a dork.

            • Waco
            • 11 years ago

            Moore’s law only governs the number of transistors in a CPU, nothing else.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 11 years ago

            Yes but it’s been extended to imply a doubling of speed, even the insiders use it to mean that.

            • tfp
            • 11 years ago

            Well that and the law is more of an observation then a law.

    • eitje
    • 11 years ago

    On the one hand, I trust anything that Tech Report posts.
    On the other hand, I *[

      • FubbHead
      • 11 years ago

      Nice one 🙂

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    Scott: Cyril, I need more time with these AM3 Phenoms… do something!!

    Cyril: Er… I can write a blog?

    Scott: Yeah sounds good, do that!

    Cyril: Okay done. Now what?

    Scott: Write another!!

    (repeat)

      • tfp
      • 11 years ago

      Yeah it does seem like this is going on at times.

    • dragmor
    • 11 years ago

    AMD’s only chance is high clocked no L3 cache quads. They should be small enough die size to make a profit.

    But I can’t see how they will keep up. The Foundry Company will never catch Intel on manufacturing tech. They might be a good competitor to TSMC one day but that’s it.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 11 years ago

      Yeah, they left those out. They will undoubtedly be very cheap, but still high performance. It’s quite possible the 2.5 GHz quad-core could sell for $100, and all the rest would be cheaper than that.

      Intel could easily match them by selling higher clocked low end CPUs, but they always refuse to do that. The new 45nm equivalents of the 65nm Pentium Dual-Cores for laptops, which JUST came out, run the same clock speeds lol…

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      I don’t know why people mention no L3 Phenoms as if it’s a good thing. The larger L3 is responsible for a good chunk of the improvement in Phenom II (read the Anandtech articles) while without L3 they would be stuck with pitifully small L2.

        • moritzgedig
        • 11 years ago

        full ack
        A quad with 2MB cache is BS
        and who ever thinks that there will be much higher clocks is delusional.
        they need to change the entire cache setup.
        L2: 256KB (each)
        L3: 4MB (total)

        • Voldenuit
        • 11 years ago

        +1

        The sole* reason Phenom II outperforms the original Phenom is because the original was starved for cache.

        * replace with main if you’re feeling less absolute

    • shiznit
    • 11 years ago

    I keep reading opinions about how Intel will never let AMD go down because they need them to avoid monopoly problems.

    I wonder how true that is if AMD just go bust on their own? I mean if the company goes bankrupt because of inferior products not selling, how could Intel be blamed or suffer because of that? Unless of course the argument is that Intel’s business practices during the P4/A64 era when AMD had the better cpu kept AMD from getting a solid footing and better position to compete now.

      • Mourmain
      • 11 years ago

      It’s not that they’ll get punished for AMD going down. It’s that once Intel remains alone on the market, anti-monopoly regulations will get activated against Intel, eating at their income. So they need competition (whoever that is) to keep the regulations from kicking in.

        • shiznit
        • 11 years ago

        what if Via is still around?

          • KhronoDevil
          • 11 years ago

          Via doesn’t really compete in the same markets as Intel. They have nothing that can compete with Core 2.

            • shiznit
            • 11 years ago

            they still make x86 general purpose processors right? would that be enough to prevent anti-trust regulations from kicking in?

            • neon
            • 11 years ago

            In most industries, antitrust regulators look at market share as well as number of competitors.

            If it were only the latter, then Intel might try to cheat by secretly funding one or more shell companies to “compete” against.

            Since Via has a very small market share, I doubt the presence of Via would keep away the regulators and price controllers.

            • Farting Bob
            • 11 years ago

            Via dont have anything to compete with Pentium III’s yet either….

            • stmok
            • 11 years ago

            Actually, they do. Their Nano processor is the first one to do so.

            Its not clock-for-clock, but the rough guide is:
            => A Nano processor needs about 100Mhz more to match a PIII.

            Examples:
            A 1.0Ghz Nano is about equal to a PIII 933Mhz.
            A 1.5Ghz Nano is about equal to a PIII 1.4Ghz.

      • Johnny5
      • 11 years ago

      IBM could make their mighty return to the PC market. 😉
      edit: there=>their

    • flip-mode
    • 11 years ago

    AMD is in bad shape. The Ph2 die size is already larger than either the i7 or the Core 2 quad. So it wins neither on performance nor cost to produce. That is a bad combination of factors as far as it concerns AMD’s money making prospects.

    I am skeptical that they will be able to stick around till 2011 without coming out with something in the interim that gets closer to i7 performance, and Intel is going to be able to put very intense price pressure on AMD.

      • Helmore
      • 11 years ago

      Ph2 is smaller than Corei7, not by much though. Ph2 is 258 mm^2 and Core i7 is 263 mm^2. AMD will also have Ph2s without the L3 cache, which will reduce it’s die size considerably.

        • wibeasley
        • 11 years ago

        Is the L3 cache missing on those chips, or is it disabled?

          • Voldenuit
          • 11 years ago

          It’s disabled. So no die savings.

          I’m pessimistic about Westmere scaling clockspeed. The separate on-chip MC + IGP die might be a bottleneck, depending on how the clocks are synchronised between the two. In any case, an overclocked GMA X4500 is hardly going to be competition for current nv and amd IGPs, let alone a year from now.

          Lynfield is going to really make things interesting, but it’s coming out too late for me to get excited about.

            • The Dark One
            • 11 years ago

            There can still be savings by disabling it, assuming that the process is leaving them with a number of faulty L3 caches right now.

            • dragmor
            • 11 years ago

            AMD has a couple of salvage parts, the 7 series and the 8 series are 9 series chips with faults that are salvaged. 3 core 6MB and 4 core 4mb.

            However AMD has planned a 4 core die with no L3. This will replace the A64 once they get enough 45nm fab space.

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