AMD is Coming Back, Hopefully in a Big Way
About a month ago, I wrote a piece titled, “The Story of Steamroller, CPU Benchmark, and FX.” Amidst the disappointment that Steamroller wasn’t coming to the FX line up, I postulated that the performance wasn’t adding up to a quality product and that AMD was going to completely overhaul their high end to be relevant again. Now, in a couple of releases from AMD, it sounds like that is exactly what is happening and AMD fans have something to look forward to again in the high end CPU market.
The first bit of news that is showing this overhaul process is AMD’s decision to go back to SMT architecture from their current CMT architecture. Without going into too much detail, CMT was AMD’s own Multi-threading architecture designed to rival the more traditional SMT architecture that IBM introduced back in the 1970s. Unfortunately, as proven by Bulldozer, Piledriver and even Steamroller, this design isn’t living up to potential. Even though AMD has come out with some decent Multi-Thread performance, their single core has significantly lagged behind and even their decent performance hasn’t been enough to to stay in step with Intel’s high end. While AMD did manage to boast the first factory clocked 5 GHz CPU, the power and performance didn’t merit even the reduced cost of owning one after the price drops.
That news would be interesting enough, but when Jim Keller, AMD’s top chip architect, says that they’re working on a new high-end chip that will replace their current offerings, that’s when things really heat up. Working on a new chip might be an understatement. More specifically, this new architecture is being “built from scratch.” This is huge news for the CPU market! This means that the only thing AMD has to compare to is Intel. With a completely new design, they can’t simply improve on the previous generation (Bulldozer to Piledriver ringing any bells?) and say that they’ve had a successful release because of a 15%-20% increase in performance. I believe Keller is eyeing Intel’s chips as the only base by which to compare new designs, which should turn into exciting releases next year.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any word about code names or numbers yet. Even still, the news that’s coming out sounds like AMD is headed in a very good direction. If AMD can start closing the gap on Intel in a big way, then many of us poor hardware enthusiasts will have some affordable performance coming our way and that’s something I really look forward to.