AMD sheds light on Bulldozer, Bobcat, desktop plans

During its 2009 Financial Analyst Day presentation today, AMD revealed some more details about its next-generation processor architectures, Bulldozer and Bobcat, as well as its desktop processor roadmap for 2010 and 2011.

This latest desktop roadmap is a little bit different from the one we saw a year ago. For starters, AMD now explicitly mentions plans for a six-core core Thuban processor in 2010. Also, the company now dubs its 32-nm enthusiast processor Zambezi. That part will have four to eight cores and will fit in AM3 sockets, just like existing Phenom IIs and Athlon IIs.

On the mainstream 32-nm front, AMD has stuck with Llano. The latest roadmap says that processor will have "up to" four cores, though, suggesting we could see a dual-core version. Once again, the APU label means all Llano offerings will have a built-in graphics core.

AMD will base the 32-nm Zambezi processor on its next-generation Bulldozer architecture, which will supplant the existing K10 design and go up against Intel’s Nehalem and Sandy Bridge. Today’s presentation included a few juicy nuggets of information about what Bulldozer processors will look like:

What you see above, folks, is a Bulldozer processor module. AMD will stick one or more of those on each chip, sometimes alongside a graphics core. Each Bulldozer module has two cores, but in a novel twist, those cores will share fetch logic, decode logic, floating-point logic, and L2 and L3 cache between them. Each Bulldozer core will nevertheless have its own integer execution units.

AMD says it strove not to compromise single-threaded performance with Bulldozer, an aspiration that led to the discrete integer processing elements. Purportedly, Bulldozer processors will deliver "outstanding" performance with traditional workloads.

Incidentally, AMD put those recent 128-bit rumors to rest by saying Bulldozer’s floating-point multiply and accumulate (FMAC) units will be able to process two 64-bit double-precision or four 32-bit single-precision operations simultaneously, but not single, 128-bit operations.

AMD has one more architecture up its sleeve: Bobcat, which will act as AMD’s answer to the Atom processor in many ways.

AMD claims Bobcat will deliver 90% of the performance of today’s mainstream processors with half the die area. With reduced voltage and clock speeds still at "very reasonable" levels, Bobcat should ease into sub-1W power envelopes, as well. The company has even made Bobcat synthesizable, meaning the silicon design is written in a high-level language and should be relatively straightforward to modify—or port to different process technologies. That little tidbit lends some credence to what we’ve been hearing about 40-nm bulk silicon APUs.

Of course, all of this power-efficiency and versatility will come at a price. AMD says the synthesizable architecture reduces top clock speeds by 20%, and the processor will also lack L3 cache and support for SSE4 instructions. Hardware virtualization will still make the cut, though.

Unlike Intel with the Atom, AMD isn’t planning to squeeze Bobcat into smart phones. At least not yet. However, we will see Bobcat sharing the ride with a graphics core in the upcoming Ontario APU, which will hit ultraportables in 2011.

Comments closed
    • smilingcrow
    • 10 years ago

    There seems to be a lot of confusion over what the Bulldozer block diagram represents. Fudzilla seemed to suggest that is of a complete Octo core CPU made up of two quad core blocks. Techreport seemed to suggest that it represents a ‘true’ dual core CPU block and that actual CPUs will consist of one or more of these which seems wrong as that suggests AMD would release a 1/2 core/thread versions of Bulldozer which seems unlikely.
    Anandtech’s interpretations seems more logical and the big surprise is that it will seemingly be a 4/8 core/thread design although performance may well be much closer to that of an 8 core. But if it’s up against an Intel 8/16 design surely it will struggle!
    An 8/16 core/thread version may well even out perform Intel but due to the extra resources it sounds as if the die size and TDP might make that impractical at 32nm!
    In other words it would be close to the size of a 16 core design and the clock speed would be limited by TDP.
    It sounds interesting just a shame it’s so far away from release.

    • clhensle
    • 10 years ago

    HAHA, intel just paid AMD 1.25 billion dollars… woot, just made a 25% return on my AMD stocks. What NVDA lost me last year, AMD has made back for me 10 fold over the past year!

      • khands
      • 10 years ago

      That’ll bounce around a little bit I’m sure, but I figure when they add that into the next quarter’s report it’ll be fine (especially if they can fudge in a “profit” again).

    • SubSeven
    • 10 years ago

    AMD is not going anywhere now… that hefty 1.25bln intel is giving them will keep them afloat for quite a bit.

      • jdaven
      • 10 years ago

      Yep AMD’s stock just shot up 25%!!! This is exactly what I’m talking about when I say AMD will be fine in 2010. As part of the settlement there will be no more rebate shennigans. This means that AMD will get many more design wins even though they have less IPC which is not what most endusers care or know about anyway.

        • SubSeven
        • 10 years ago

        Also, don’t forget the impact this cash will have on their debt. They can substantially reduce their debt obligations and decrease their interest paybles on debt (which hurts their net profit margins quite a bit) and actually become GAAP profitable. Lastly, with the 4th quarter typically being the best quarter for this industry, aside from the extraordinary income from intel, this should be a pretty good quarter for amd (if they could only get the 5800 going again it would be darn near perfect!).

    • esterhasz
    • 10 years ago

    If I have understood correctly, the fact that the double pipeline approach in Bulldozer does not imply doubling FP pathways seems to highlight the Fusion strategy which, until now, I thought was nothing more than a CPU+GPU on a die thing. The reduced emphasis in bulldozer on FP does, however, indicate that Fusion really is something quite different. A PU agnostic compiler could analyze tasks and distribute adequate operations on the GPU part, thereby reducing the need for full dedicated FPU in the CPU part. Transparent to the programmer and potentially more performant than a larger grained GPGPU approach if L3 caches, etc. can be shared. Most interesting! Really hope that AMD can execute. They should probably settle with Intel fast and focus on the tech…

      • redpriest
      • 10 years ago

      I don’t see how you guys can say that the Bulldozer FP is deemphasized when it is in fact, 2x as powerful (at least as disclosed in these slides) then any FPU you can buy today in a processor.

        • esterhasz
        • 10 years ago

        Sure, deemphasized is relative. But integer pipes go from 3 to 8 while FP doubles and is shared between the two “threadblocks”. One might say that AMD is rebalancing its approach, which up ’till now was built on massive FP throughput (translating into a real SpecFP advantage). With FP load slowly migrating to the GPU (that’s why nvidia is introducing DP) it may make sense to invest stronger on integer on the CPU. But it’s really too soon to tell…

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 10 years ago

          I think shared FP is quite clever, since it is expensive (thermal & die area) yet often nearly useless. This should allow a single thread to access totally excessive FP resources while not harming two threads too much, and while keeping the various costs under control.

          • MikeA
          • 10 years ago

          I don’t believe that is correct, the Bulldozer diagram has 4 pipes per Core, but it must have at least 1 Load and 1 Store Pipe each like the Bobcat core has below it. That means each core only has 2 Integer Units each, and 4 not 8 for a whole Bulldozer core.

      • Hattig
      • 10 years ago

      l[

        • esterhasz
        • 10 years ago

        I agree, there’s still some powerful FP in there and it would be a rather risky thing to bet the house on the GPU part of the die (legacy code, and it will take a lot of time to trickle automatic load analysis and distribution into standard compilers) – but I think there’s the start of a development that might just take us there in the long run…

    • FuturePastNow
    • 10 years ago

    An ambitious and innovative design, but that does not mean it will succeed. I am skeptical about its ability to compete with whatever Intel will have in 2011, and about the sub-1W claims for Bobcat.

    Good stuff, though. This will be interesting.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 10 years ago

      I’m skeptical of it mattering. As time goes on, variations in CPUs become more and more meaningless.

      Intel is making more headway with SSDs and AMD are making more headway with GPUs.

      • shank15217
      • 10 years ago

      What exactly do you know about what Intel will have in 2010? Intel has picked 2 very low hanging fruits off the performance tree, hyperthreading and on die memory controller. Its not so easy to add that type of performance every generation.

    • anotherengineer
    • 10 years ago

    Looks good, I hope everything works out for them. Either way I will still buy there products, someone has to keep them going or were all going to be paying 500 dollars for a celeron LOL

      • shaq_mobile
      • 10 years ago

      but with a celeron we might be able to play quake!

      i <3 amd. theyre doing a decent job considering the situation.

      • tocatl
      • 10 years ago

      AMD should put more focus in emerging countries, intel mobos and cpus in mexico are quite expensive compared to amd, thats why many people in mexico is buying more amd products than intel ones.

      • Shining Arcanine
      • 10 years ago

      That would not be terrible if the celeron has 32 cores. That could be a better deal than what we are getting today on quad core processors.

    • bdwilcox
    • 10 years ago

    Please, please, please find an AMD chipset roadmap. That’s what is (and always was) keeping me from buying AMD.

      • sydbot
      • 10 years ago

      Ditto, I put up with an Athlon X2 just because I found the 780G to be rather marvelous at the time of purchase. Micro-ATX loaded to the gills FTW!

        • Hattig
        • 10 years ago

        Indeed, I find that the mainstream platform value for AMD is very competitive and compelling. That’s the motherboard and CPU together, and not enthusiast variants, but well featured mainstream versions. My rig is getting on to 30 months old and I will be looking at a quad-bulldozer for 2011 I think.

      • wira020
      • 10 years ago

      same problem here… but have a look at their articles..

      §[<http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/2009/4/15/amds-next-gen-bulldozer-is-a-128-bit-crunching-monster.aspx<]§ might give u a rough idea... seems like the bulldozer will utilize different socket... just maybe btw... i think i will try playing safe and buy gbyte 770 n 550be or maybe 955 new tdp... just to last me until bulldozer... since it could cost alot when released in 2011 and would need a few months for the price to come down as always... looking roughly end of 2011 for next upgrade... so i think this will last me 2 years.. i hope... oh how i wish some miracle happen and they would be able to release em tomorrow...

    • flip-mode
    • 10 years ago

    Heh, by the time Bulldozer is on the shelf, an i7-975 will be “slow”, so ‘dozer better be good.

      • Krogoth
      • 10 years ago

      I hope Bulldozer can at least light a fire under Intel’s behind.

      Core i7 was a minor jump over the Core 2. IMO, its biggest improvement over Core 2 was the move to QPI. I can’t see Sandy Bridge being a sufficient improvement. Gulftown is going to be a tweaked, die-shrinked Bloomfield with two extra cores.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 10 years ago

        I think you mean integrated northbridge rather than QPI per se, QPI is just a bus. But what makes you think Sandy Bridge won’t be much of a jump? The information is thin but what Intel has said sounds very promising, basically a doubling of execution units, pipelines etc over Core 2/Nehalem. If that’s anywhere near true it means a 2c/4t Sandy Bridge could perform like a 4c/8t Nehalem 😮 That’s pretty awesome to me.

          • tfp
          • 10 years ago

          It should make hyperthreading more effective at least.

            • shank15217
            • 10 years ago

            Hyperthreading is already very effective, this is should improve performance to about 80% of a full second core instead of 25-30%.

            • tfp
            • 10 years ago

            Yes which is a lot more effective, at 25%-30% it’s just nice. Your 80% guess would be huge for heavy threaded apps.

          • Krogoth
          • 10 years ago

          QPI is a big deal in the multi-socket world.

          It is Nehalem’s biggest improvement over the Core 2 family which was still stuck with sharing FSB. Integrated memory controller is nice, this advantage is bigger in the multi-socket arena.

          Integrated memory controllers for desktops are a mixed bag. Yes, it reduces latency and increases bandwidth efficiency. However, the amount of channels and memory types are tied to the socket. Remember the mess of A64 socket types? Phenoms managed to do this better. Intel is starting to repeat the A64 route. (LGA1366 = S940, LGA1156 = S754).

            • yuhong
            • 10 years ago

            “Intel is starting to repeat the A64 route. (LGA1366 = S940, LGA1156 = S754).”
            Not exactly. Not only does these sockets differ in the memory channel, the LGA1156 has the DMI and PCIe interfaces coming right out of the processor just like the Transmeta processors did, while LGA1366 has the QPI interface that connect to an IOH to provide DMI and PCIe just like AMD’s current processors with the HyperTransport interface.

      • shank15217
      • 10 years ago

      I disagree, the fastest processor you can buy today wont become “slow” in 14 months. The fastest core 2 quads still hit mid to high range in many benchmarks.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 10 years ago

        New LGA1366 32nm CPUs will make the i7 975 look antiquated. If AMD is just keeping pace with the performance gap, rather than closing the gap, then they’re still not going to be competitive. They can’t make money if they don’t sell CPUs with reasonable margins.

        • flip-mode
        • 10 years ago

        Thanks for missing the point… again, and again, and again. Didn’t you see the quotes? “slow”, not actually slow, but “slow”.

      • maroon1
      • 10 years ago

      Just because AMD claims that bulldozer are going to very powerful doesn’t means that it will be (Do anyone remember what AMD said about original Phenom ?)

      AMD is simply shedding the light on Bulldozer for marketing reasons

        • Kaleid
        • 10 years ago

        But we knew Phenom was based on Athlon 64 at least.

        • shank15217
        • 10 years ago

        The phenom/phenom II has 20-25% more IPC over the Athlon x2 and twice the cores. What exactly are you talking about?

    • ClickClick5
    • 10 years ago

    My next system specs are based from this. An eight core Bulldozer, Radeon 6870 and 16GB of ram. An SSD for the OS and at least a 2TB for the games and media. This will put my current gaming rig at four years old.

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 10 years ago

      And all for a cool price on 100 bucks!

      • VILLAIN_xx
      • 10 years ago

      Haha, until you find out 12 cores or more is around the corner, then you will wait some more!

        • ClickClick5
        • 10 years ago

        lol, true. When I can build what I want for $1000 (excluding shipping), I will go for it.

          • Rakhmaninov3
          • 10 years ago

          My next smartphone will have 128 cores, 64TB of memory, and octo-SLI in a 1oz invisible form factor.

            • khands
            • 10 years ago

            It will also taste like bubblegum.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 10 years ago

    Dragon and Leo are both my Zodiac. ooOoo.

    • Helmore
    • 10 years ago

    Is Llano based on K10 cores or on a Bulldozer core? AnandTech claims Llano is based on K10 (Phenom II), so either he or the TechReport is wrong (I hope the former :P).

      • jdaven
      • 10 years ago

      Anand added an update similar to this article that seems to indicate that Llano is a Bulldozer core but I could be wrong about that. He did say initially that it would be a K10.5 shrunk to 32 nm but that doesn’t sound right. I also seem to remember a Fudzilla article that said Llano was K10.5 but then a new article corrected that to Bulldozer. I may have it reversed.

      §[<http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=3674<]§

    • Ryhadar
    • 10 years ago

    So happy that my hypothesis about AM3 socket compatibility with Bulldozer turned out to be true. Looks like I’ll be updating my rig in 2010 afterall.

    • flip-mode
    • 10 years ago

    Nice info.

    • jdaven
    • 10 years ago

    Ok guys, everyone needs to calm down about AMD not having anything to fight Intel with for all of 2010. Yes the Nehalem architecture came out in November 2008 but its been a full year. Yes you read that right. A full year has past and Intel has only released a handful of Nehalem desktop CPUs in the $200 plus segment. Not many systems sold with these high end CPU’s just us gamers and computer enthusiasts.

    Now if Intel released a top to bottom Nehalem architecture then AMD would be in deep trouble but Intel left Core 2 to compete with AMD in the sub $200 range. The Phenom II / Athlon II processors compete well against Core 2’s.

    So what about in 2010 when Intel releases Nehalem CPUs down to $87 (Pentium G6950). Well AMD will just keep increasing clock speed on all processor families while discontinuing lower clock speed models to fill the same price points. Just imagine a 3.0 GHz Phenom II X4 at let’s say 80W (better stepping) priced at $87 with a 2.8 GHz Phenom II X6 at $175 for example.

    I’m pretty sure AMD will do just fine unless Intel magically releases sub $200 parts from top to bottom that beats anything AMD has. This is just not going to happen and therefore AMD will compete with price, better steppings, overall platform (chipset + CPU + GPU) and small improvements in the K10.5 architecture (like the ones we saw in the new 125 W 3.4 GHz Phenom II X4).

    So calm down, AMD will be just fine.

      • TurtlePerson2
      • 10 years ago

      Consumers will be fine, but AMD won’t. Intel can sell their high end chips for $500+ while AMD gets $200 for its best. Intel can afford to lower their prices whenever they want in order to get more market share. Things are really not improving for AMD right now.

        • redpriest
        • 10 years ago

        I’ve seen this same fallacy listed over and over again. What portion of the market, do you think buys $200+ CPUs?

        • jdaven
        • 10 years ago

        Wow, didn’t understand my post at all.

        Let’s make a bet right now. I bet that AMD will have roughly the same marketshare at the end of 2010 as it does right now.

        How can I be so confident? Why don’t you go ask grandma if she would rather buy the efficient IPC Nehalem architecture over the higher clock K10.5 architecture. I’m pretty sure she will just say whatever’s cheaper and will allow me to look at my grandchildren online. Both Intel and AMD can do that with their products throughout 2010.

        Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was EXCEPT Intel’s ability to use rebates and shaddy monopolistic abuses are gone due to lawsuits/investigations/etc. therefore allowing AMD to claim more design wins and infiltrate more of the market even with less efficient IPC.

        Just look at the P4 vs. K8 era to understand this.

          • blastdoor
          • 10 years ago

          I don’t think he was arguing that AMD would lose marketshare. He was arguing that AMD will not be very profitable, because they can’t charge very much for their chips.

          But yeah — it looks like they won’t go out of business. They will limp along making just enough to survive, because Intel allows them to limp along making just enough to survive.

            • jdaven
            • 10 years ago

            Ah yes the whole I am the market leader therefore I “allow” my competition to survive. I missed that part of economics 101. But I guess you had a different textbook.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            It’s more like “I’m the market leader and I have a much better product that’s much cheaper to produce…”

            Intel could destroy AMD if they wanted to, but it’s in their best interest to keep AMD around.

            I think this was covered in Economics 310; did you miss the class, or did you quit after Bachelor’s because it was getting too difficult for you…?

            • Buzzard44
            • 10 years ago

            In most colleges, isn’t 300-level coursework considered undergraduate, not graduate, as you have stated?

            I really don’t care about the argument, I’m just pointing out a curiosity.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            Not in all of them. In some, 300-level courses are for first-year grad students

            • blastdoor
            • 10 years ago

            I used to teach econ 101, actually.

            • jdaven
            • 10 years ago

            Ok, well then did you ever teach your students that if you are in a market position like Intel, you get the ability to choose whether your competition gets to stay around or not?

            • blastdoor
            • 10 years ago

            We would not have delved that deeply into antitrust.

            Intel could wipe AMD off the face of the earth tomorrow (by temporarily cutting prices until AMD goes bankrupt), and make much more money in the long run for having done so, EXCEPT that then they would be more vulnerable to antitrust action from the Justice department and the Europeans. Although I’m not an expert on anti-trust, I think that one action that could be taken would be to force Intel to license x86 more broadly and under better terms in order to generate competition. Intel is probably guessing that they are better off having one weak competitor than multiple strong competitors.

            • jdaven
            • 10 years ago

            I’ll just have to disagree with you that a company can just remove another company from the industry in the manner you suggest. I’ve seen companies get bought out or go out of business for multiple reasons but never a company that has a decent business porfolio like AMD’s just get put out of business by another company just because. And since AMD has not filled for bankruptcy and has plenty of investors, I am confident that Intel will have no say whatsoever whether they stay or go. Also, settling of the antitrust suit doesn’t hurt either.

            • blastdoor
            • 10 years ago

            So what’s so hard for you to understand here? If Intel sells processors for a cost below what it costs AMD to make them, AMD will lose money until they go out of business. That is not complicated. Costs > Revenue == loss. Enough losses == bankruptcy.

            If it were not for anti-trust concerns, Intel would have every reason to do that. They would lose money in the short run, but in the long run they would have no competition in the x86 market, meaning they could charge whatever price the market could bear. Nobody else has the right to make x86 processors.

            But there ARE anti-trust concerns, which is why this doesn’t happen. And it’s because of anti-trust that AMD just got $1.25 billion and the chance to live on as a company. And I think that’s a great thing — I would hate for AMD to die. The day they came out with the X2 I ran out and bought one, even though it cost over $500, because it was the best thing on the market at the time (and I need all the speed I can get). I hope AMD is able to come up with something good enough to be Apple-worthy — if they do, then I might be able to use their CPUs again.

            • mutarasector
            • 10 years ago

            [If it were not for anti-trust concerns, Intel would have every reason to do that. They would lose money in the short run, but in the long run they would have no competition in the x86 market]

            Your understanding of the antitrust issues is sorely lacking. If Intel were to simply /[

            • Shining Arcanine
            • 10 years ago

            Have you ever heard of Netscape?

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            Intel is our knight in shiny armor. AMD is the black knight from Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

            • DrDillyBar
            • 10 years ago

            Right! I’ll do you f’er that!

            • zagortenay
            • 10 years ago

            What shit are you chewing in your mouth? Spit it so we can understand, you smart ass!

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            Successful troll successful?

    • danny e.
    • 10 years ago

    AMD seems to be about one full year behind now. Sad considering they were ahead for a while.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 10 years ago

      Meanwhile, Larrabee has been delayed at least a full year, and within the course of about only one year, AMD managed to dethrone the almighty Nvidia.

      You win some, you lose some. The important thing is to pick your battles wisely.

        • PRIME1
        • 10 years ago

        Fusion is still nowhere to be seen and technically NVIDIA still has the fastest card so….

          • Meadows
          • 10 years ago

          But not the fastest chip. So, in your terms, /[

            • Fighterpilot
            • 10 years ago

            +2 for that original pwnage 😉

            • Shining Arcanine
            • 10 years ago

            They have Fermi. Although it is close to being vaporware, it technically speaking is not any worse off than ATI’s Radeon 5xxx series.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            MARKETSHARE!

            In the past month, 58xx had, what, 90%? Fermi, had, what,…?

            • Meadows
            • 10 years ago

            Yes, it’s technically worse, for the exact reason of being nearly vapourware.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 10 years ago

          In a matter of days, AMD will have TWO faster cards.

          While “Fusion” is nowhere to be found, it’s irrelevant until it means something of practical use to me. They already stick cheapo GPUs on all their boards that will work for switchable graphics. It’s not like we get to dump our discrete cards just because the cheapo GPU is stuck on the CPU.

            • wira020
            • 10 years ago

            But i thought profits from gpus arent as much as cpu?.. right?

            which is coming first? the low end 5000 series or the hemlock?

    • Jigar
    • 10 years ago

    Is there any answer to Intel’s i series from AMD ?

      • NeelyCam
      • 10 years ago

      No.

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