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The Tale of the Barcelona - Then and Now

The Tale of the Barcelona - Then and Now

At the time of launch, Barcelona's significant marketing tagline was that it's the first native x86 quad-core design (it still is) and its debut also signaled that the consumer-based quad-core Phenom processor was in the wings. Barcelona being a workstation/server oriented processor, it had a very long validation process. During that process, AMD obtained feedback from some of their partners they were working with on issues that they couldn't quite pin the culprit upon (which we all now understand as the TLB bug issue with regards to system stability). This actually took them a month or two to figure things out - that's when they put word to the market that they weren't going to see Barcelona as fast as they initially thought so. Once the issue was confirmed, AMD wasn't delivering Barcelona processors for general availability because they weren't able to give the full assurance of the absolute reliability that their customers would expect of their Opteron processors.

So while AMD wasn't providing for general availability, they were in direct communication with some of their very large customers who purchase tens or hundreds of thousands of Opteron processors to whom AMD was able to relate the exact issue that they are seeing and that in a Linux environment, all they had to do was to install a patch to circumvent the issue with zero performance penalty and they wouldn't see the issue. Those are the customers who felt that it was worthwhile to still pursue with the earlier batch of Barcelona processors and they bought them up.

Meanwhile, AMD did work with all other vendors and OEMs with the existing silicon to ensure the Barcelona met their internal proposed needs and validation. So when the revised B3 silicon comes in, they would have a much quicker validation process and move with their proposed upgrade/migration/deployment of newer servers. After-all, the Barcelona didn't require any new platforms anyway. So there is pent-up demand for the newly revised Opteron processors since in the server world, customers don't necessarily jump platforms completely and many rather wait up till the newer processors are launched - more so again because the Barcelona can be plugged into existing Opteron platforms supporting registered DDR2 memory (effectively their second generation platforms). So AMD expects a huge surge in sales as well as market share - to the point that they believe they would out be of the red by the next quarter. It's definitely a bold statement of confidence and we really hope to hear that from the next quarter's financial update.

The newer B3 silicon based quad-core Opteron processors are key proponents to uphold the trust and commitments that many of their vendors and partners have with AMD and is also vital to get AMD back in the black as far as financial terms are concerned.

If you're wondering if there would be tri-core Opteron processors, John highlighted that the triple-core products are squarely aimed at the consumer segment and they don't expect to roll these product for the server side. Probably one of the reasons of this decision could lie in the fact that the triple-core processors are actual quad-core products with a defective core, hence it makes sense to exclude this in more critical environments.

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