12-core processors on the horizon.
Making the shrink to a 45nm manufacturing process for its Phenom processors is obviously going to be an important move for AMD. Intel already managed that trick way back in November with Penryn, so a bit of catch up is required. Luckily for AMD fans, the just-revealed 45nm roadmap suggests that its engineers still have a few plans to fend off its rival.
Codenamed, as some of you may already know, Shanghai; AMD’s 45nm CPU is basically an identical core to Phenom (not just Intel can use a tick-tock strategy) but with a few refinements. Shanghai will also bring with it a native 6-core processor, clearly aimed squarely at Intel’s recently announced 6-core Dunnington chip.
That’s not all, though, come early next year AMD will give up on native x-core designs in favour of following Intel’s lead and packaging two dies in a single package creating a 12-core processor. As each die offers a dual-channel memory controller using hypertransport a single core could emulate quad-channel support by accessing the second die’s memory controller. A move inspired by Nehalem’s tri-channel memory controller?
The problem with this roadmap is that it doesn’t really suggest that AMD will have much chance of facing off against Nehalem. The only real advantage AMD has had since the introduction of the Core architecture, an integrated memory controller, will no longer be present. Further, we already know that Nehalem will have 8-core CPUs in its line-up and, given current quad-core Phemon performance is already below that of Intel’s offerings, it seems unlikely that 12-core AMD chips will be able to rival 8-core Nehalem. Here’s hoping AMD can pull something out of the bag…