The first systems running AMD's new quad-core Barcelona chip are expected to hit the market in April, which AMD is hoping will help it catch up with rival Intel.
Kevin Knox, vice president of AMD's commercial business, has said that several hardware vendors, including HP, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Dell, will be launching Barcelona-based servers between now and the end of the second quarter.
HP recently announced that its largest x86 server yet – the eight-socket ProLiant DL785 equipped with quad-core Barcelona chips – will ship in May. With eight sockets and quad-core chips, that means the server will be running 32 cores.
"We're pretty excited about that because it opens us up to a market we hadn't played heavily in before," said Knox, acknowledging that Barcelona is four to six months late because of an errata, or bug, that was discovered in the chip's Transition Lookaside Buffer (TLB).
"If you take a step back this was a problem we discovered in a high-stress environment inside our labs. [Delaying it] was the right thing to do, the responsible thing to do."
Knox said the problems with Barcelona ended up as a big learning experience for AMD – one that will benefit its work on upcoming processors.
"We've had a lot of learnings from what we went through with Barcelona," he added. "We learned things about stress testing and working to figure out problems earlier in the processes. It pointed us to potential areas where there could be issues. The errata was around TLBs and that has a big impact on virtualisation. The B2 has given us pretty strong learnings. We're actually feeling pretty good with the learnings from B2 and we're on track with B3."
AMD was talking about Barcelona systems hitting the market the day after Intel announced its six-core Dunnington would ship in the second half of this year. Knox said since there isn't a lot of software geared to take full advantage of four-cores yet, he's not too worried about their rival coming out with six at this point.
"Six cores is interesting," he noted. "Again, I'm not convinced there's a gigantic market of applications that want to exploit that number. We still believe we're going to be extremely competitive. When you look at the architecture things we've done, like hyper transport, that will make us extremely competitive, added to the fact that we'll have quad-core to compete against quad-core."
Knox also said that Shanghai, the next version of Opteron, is on track for release in the second half of this year. Shanghai will mark AMD's first move from a 65 nanometre (nm) manufacturing process to 45nm process. Intel moved to the 45nm process last November with the Penrynfamily of processors.