AMD reveals more quad-core details

AMD has revealed details of how its pending quad-core chip works at a technical conference this week in San Francisco.


Also in Barcelona, the OS will directly communicate with the central processing unit (CPU) instead of first going through the CPU driver, a more efficient approach, he said. "With Barcelona, there is no CPU driver middleman. The OS can tell the processor directly, 'Hey this is how much work I'm doing,' and the Barcelona core will determine when the best time is to make that change. It's not doing it blindly," he said.

Barcelona also separates the power management of the cores from that of the memory controller, which is embedded in AMD-designed processors. That way, frequency and voltage can be reduced to the cores when they are not busy and increased to the memory controller when it is busy, and vice versa. AMD claims an 80% reduction in memory controller power usage with this design change.

Barcelona will also feature enhanced clock-gating, which means core logic circuits can be turned on or off to save power. Like settings on a coffee grinder, the chip can do "coarse" or "fine" clock gating, shutting down increasingly finer sections of core logic as needed.

AMD claims in a news release that Barcelona can deliver a 40% improvement in performance over "the competition." Intel’s quad-core Xeon product launched in 2006. But while not mentioning Intel's Xeon specifically, AMD has long pointed out that its quad-core chip will be four cores designed on the same piece of silicon, while Intel's design is two dual-core processors packaged together.

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