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Tuesday, 24 August 2010 11:09

AMD details its Bulldozer and Bobcat architecture

Written by Slobodan Simic
amd fusion

Coming in 2011

Despite the fact that AMD's upcoming products based on the Bulldozer and Bobcat architecture will appear sometime in 2011, AMD has finally shed some official light regarding the actual details about the architecture. The Bobcat will be the base of the first Fusion chip, codenamed Ontario, coming from AMD, and you can expect this one to show up in early 2011 if all goes well, while the Bulldozer will also appear in 2011, although first as a part of AMD's server and high-end dekstop products.

The Bulldozer architecture introduces two integer execution cores, something that we haven't seen so far, while sharing the rest of the components of components when needed. Bulldozer is built in 32nm SOI process technology. During the press briefing, AMD has pointed out that every Bulldozer "module" will be counted as a dual or two core, which means that simply if you pair up eight Bulldozer modules, you get a sixteen cores, as on the Interlagos, which will be one of the server parts that will show up using the Bulldozer architecture.

The Bulldozer architecture is promising a 50 percent better performance when compared to the today architecture, all thanks to the better power management, better performance thanks to the noted "multi-threading done right" architecture design, and of course, 32nm manufacturing process. Of course, Bulldozer also has a future in Fusion market, but that will come at a later date once this architecture takes strong roots in server market.


The Bobcat architecture aims at the netbook and notebook market and AMD markets this architecture as a flexible, low power and small architecture that can manage sub one watt core that has up to 90 percent of the performance when compared to the current K8-based mainstream chips. Of course, the sub-1W claim means that you have to lower the voltages and performance leaving it to be suitable only for netbooks and even smaller devices such as MIDs, but it's nice to see how low can it go when it comes to power consumption.

Despite its small size, the Bobcat will feature complete ISA support including SSE1-3, SSE3 ISA instructions and virtualization. It will have a out-of-order exectuion engine, AMD64 64-bit ISA and will feature 32kb of L1 cache.

The Bobcat architecture will show up in the Ontario APU, which will become AMD's first Fusion chip. The Ontario was pushed ahead of Llano, which based on AMD's K8-architecture, and should be ready for early 2011 timeframe.


Although, there has been a lot of questions regarding the upcoming products based on these architectures, AMD has decided to keep this briefing limited to the architecture itself although we are pretty sure that we'll see more and more info as we draw closer to the end of the year. AMD feels quite confident regarding these two architectures and for now everything looks promising and quite good.

Last modified on Tuesday, 24 August 2010 12:01
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+48 #1 AndreiD 2010-08-24 13:03
I hope AMD flexes it's muscles and gives intel a kick in the nuts.
More competition = lower prices = happier customers.
+15 #2 Bl0bb3r 2010-08-24 13:15
"The Ontario was pushed ahead of Llano"

Nope, Llano was set back a few months because GloFo can't deliver 32nm SOI so quickly, while Ontario is on TSMC's 40nm bulk, which has been in place for some time now. Other than that, they're on schedule and with OEM's not being fearful of Intel's wrath anymore hopefully they will have the products in place on time.

I'm just guessing here, but they will sure kick some Nehalem ass, as for Sandy and Ivy, only the price will tell.
+22 #3 BernardP 2010-08-24 13:33
If Bulldozer can deliver similar performance to Sandy Bridge, AMD will gain favor with enthusiasts, because Bulldozer doesn't have integrated graphics.
Intel will want to sell its built-in GPU at full price (witness the current Clarkdale pricing), while the performance CPU buyer is getting a discrete videocard and won't be interesting about paying for Intel graphics he isn't going to use.
+1 #4 Bl0bb3r 2010-08-24 13:45
Bulldozer APU won't come first at least, but it will come.

I'm more concerned about Intel's fabs and process. It won't be long after BD hits the street that Intel will announce Ivy and people will halt purchasing BD out of curiosity of what Ivy might bring and how much Nehalem and Sandy will drop in price, even if they won't buy Ivy and even if BD might be affordable compared to current NH i7.
+9 #5 JAB Creations 2010-08-24 15:23
Tom's Haqrdware said the new chips will work in existing socket AM3 motherboards which would be awesome. They have dropped DDR2 support so these chips will not work in AM2/AM2+ motherboards which if is true I would recommend socket AM2 die-hards purchase an X6 before they end production. If you own a socket AM3 CPU you may be able to drop it in to a socket AM3+ motherboard though I haven't heard anything about that. Best to wait though for those who can't easily afford with two or three component upgrades it would be nice to get a socket AM3 CPU now for a socket AM2 motherboard, and when the AM3+ motherboards come out drop the AM3 CPU in to that, then later on upgrade to an AM3+ CPU. Keep in mind that this is likely but not guaranteed.

I'm still rocking an X3 720 BE(as X4).
0 #6 BernardP 2010-08-24 21:48
Nothing official yet, but...

This article says (last paragraph) that Bulldozer will not be compatible with the current AM3 socket. But current AM2/AM3 processors will be compatible with the AM3r socket:


"For the desktop, the Zambezi (Bulldozer) processor is good news and bad news. The good news is it's an 8 core product, the bad news is it needs a new socket - AM3r, or AM3+. This is an electrical upgrade of the AM3 platform, to provide the power phases and planes/states required by the power gating features of Zambezi"

I think AMD might not be too unhappy that many current AM3 buyers believe that they will have a drop-in upgrade to Bulldozer...
+3 #7 Super XP 2010-08-24 22:14
Nice, sounds like AMD will take the performance crown away from Intel. SHould help drive prices down into the dirt.
Can't wait for Bulldozer's release. IMO to benefit from Bulldozer, buy a brand new motherboard based on the new design. NEW Chipset sounds like it's going to be called 990FX-SB950 or something.
+2 #8 Regenweald 2010-08-24 22:37
Bulldozer and Sandy bridge are going to really please both camps' fans. I can't wait for the mobile parts to be released, 2nd H 2011 and 2012 are going to see ridiculous power in laptops. Yay.
-12 #9 Naterm 2010-08-24 23:58
How do you assume that this is going to put AMD at a higher performance level than intel? We really know very little about Bulldozer, even when exactly it'll hit the market.

AMD current needs about 50% more cores per chip to somewhat compete with intel. Even then, they're still slower. Assuming this chip is a massive leap, it'll likely only bring them up to Nehalem-EP or Westmere-EP levels of performance. Not to mention intel will be using a mature process and GloFo will have no prior experience with the 32nm node.

I think it's highly unlikely that a 8-core Bulldozer will be faster than an 8-core/16-thread Sandy Bridge B2 processor. As for 2S servers, it likely won't be any better there.
0 #10 agent_47 2010-08-25 09:35
1. BD supports all the instructions n is very similar to i7. not to mention with better prefetch, 4 decoders,simila r cache latencies to i7. all these will improve IPC. though pipelines are deeper, amd claims to make up for the lost speed, amd will clock similar to x4, if not better. n it don hurt to have expectations and anticipate compilation in the entire line of cpu.

2. y would you compare 4 module("8core") with 8core(16thread)?
1module may have 2 integer, but has one FP, same 4 decoders, etc. its just another way of simulating HT (or SMT) that intel uses. amd only uses a lot more transistor at it. its still 1 core. i reckon a 3monule/"6core" will same as i7. amd only markets it 8 core to attract buyers.

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