Monday, February 25, 2013

AMD's Chance

So, back to the previous topic.

Essentially, AMD has an architecture that's not keeping up with Intel. They're pushing an architecture that doesn't have as good a single threaded performance, but has potential to handle more threads.

Lets face it that's not always the case. A core i5 CPU's quad core 4-issue wide setup will have great IPC ratio and enough parallelism for most tasks.

The core i3, is similar to the core i5. They run the same architecture (ivybridge today). One big difference is core i3's have hyperthreading enabled giving 2 real cores, 4 logical cores. Core i5 runs 4 real cores without hyperthreading. There's also a cache size difference to add to this, and core i3 has no turbo function.

Now lets see how this affects us (consumers). I need to spend $120-130 for a core i3, and $180-$190 for core i5. 

This puts AMD's 8 core (4 module) CPU against the i5. The i5 having great single threaded performance and significant multiprocessing capability. 8 cores do not give as much of a boost as many would think. Most apps aren't that well multithreaded. The single threaded performance of the i5 punches well enough above AMD's 8350 making the 8 core processor a tough sell in many areas.

The AMD 6 core piledriver (also ~$120) is structurally very similar to their 8 core chip, single core performance doesn't take a hit here. Core i3 does though when compared to i5. The main strength of intel core gets lost on i3. The cut in cache and lack of turbo lets AMD's "6" core FX 6300 catch up in single threaded performance. The multiprocessing advantage of the AMD part is clear though. While today we don't utilize more than 4 cores very well, the jump from 2 cores is significant enough. 2 core-i3 cores to 6-vishera? Good enough jump.

Synopsis: AMD maintained high multiprocessing capability without sacrificing much single core performance on their lower end parts. When they were within spitting distance of their rival in single threaded performance, they maintained the edge in multithreading/multiprocessing. They will need to keep this edge, while they improve their core performance.

With tax season done, I'm keenly eyeing an AMD deal in the store now. For a while, i didn't think that I would.

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