AMD is Betting the Farm on Maximizing Core Count

Justin Kerr

AMD has had a tough time keeping up with Intel in terms of performance per core, but if all you’re looking at is price per core they have a definitive advantage over the competition. Instead of focusing their efforts on driving up clock speeds they are now putting more emphasis on increasing the number of cores they can fit on a single die.

In a blog posting titled, “ Cores – More is Better ”, AMD’s John Fruehe, Director of Product Marketing for Server/Workstation revealed classified shipment data, and according to Fruehe people are obsessed with cores. "In looking through sales data for the first half of 2010, 12-core processors clearly outsold their 8-core counterparts – by a wide margin. I was expecting that there would be a slight bias towards the 12-core, but I figured there were plenty of applications where the extra clock speed of an 8-core might be popular," Fruehe wrote. "Apparently I was wrong, customers are voting with their budgets, and cores matter."

Software developers are starting to catch on to the trend by offering more and more multi-threaded applications, an approach that would clearly favor AMD’s strategy of increasing the core count above all else. The upcoming AMD Bulldozer architecture will feature chips with up to 16 cores, a product that will likely fill a valuable niche in the virtual server market.

What do you think will ultimately be more valuable, more speed per core or more cores per die?

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