This week has brought a whole raft of AMD stories with all sorts of headlines swirling about the company in the run-up to next week's make-or-break Barcelona announcement. Here's a brief look at the very latest in AMD news before the big day on Monday.
Dell sticks by AMD
In a speech at the 14th Annual Citigroup Technology Conference, Dell CEO Michael Dell insisted that his company would continue offering AMD processors. Dell cited the need for diversity in processor suppliers, as well as the complementary strengths of Intel's quad-core "Clovertown" Xeons and AMD's quad-core Barcelona. Dell, who could be citing either real in-house benchmarks or someone's marketing materials, claimed that Barcelona has a 30 percent lead in floating-point performance over Clovertown, while Clovertown has a 30 percent lead in integer.
These are all good reasons to stick by AMD, but there's another factor behind Dell's newfound love of Intel's archrival that you won't be hearing about from company executives. Namely, the fact that Dell no longer gets the steep discounts and advertising subsidies that it allegedly once received from Intel when it was an Intel-only company. In the post-Conroe world, Intel has cut prices across the board for its processor lineup. So whatever discount Dell may still get, it's not worth losing any potential business over.
AMD serves up Barcelona prices
Someone in the channel squealed, and now DailyTech has its hands on the launch prices and clockspeeds for Barcelona. In line with previous announcements, Barcelona's launch speeds top out at a piddling 2.0GHz across the board, in both two- and four-socket variants. On the two-socket side, there's the 2.0GHz (95W TDP) Opteron 2350, a processor that sells for $372 (presumably in lots of 1,000). There's also a 1.9GHz 68W part for the same price, as well as a 1.7GHz (68W TDP) for $206.
The four-socket Opteron 8000 series is significantly pricier, with the top-end 2.0GHz model going for $1,004, and the bottom-end 1.8GHz model going for $688.
AMD officially pries open ATI driver code
First on the list of AMD headlines is the major announcement that the chipmaker has finally reversed ATI's long-standing and much-hated stance toward Linux support. AMD announced on Wednesday that they would at long last provide Linux support for the HD 2000 series of GPUs by bringing the Catalyst 7.9 drivers to Linux. The company also had previously promised to support the development of an open-source driver by releasing specifications and the source code for a basic driver, a promise that it delivered on today with a formal announcement.
Today's official open-source announcement states that next week, following the Barcelona launch, AMD will not only provide the tools and information necessary to develop open-source drivers for the HD 2000 series, but the Radeon X1000 series will be supported as well. AMD also got Novell's SuSE engineers to contribute to the initial release, which the open-source community can then build upon.
As ZDNET points out, the HD 2000 series' DRM-enabling features, like the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) protocol and others that I described in my launch coverage, won't be exposed to the open-source community. This means that support for these features will come only after a hefty bout of reverse-engineering and hacking—something that ATI users on Linux are used to anyway.
AMD miscellany: 32nm production; dissed by marketing types; a new gaming site
Theo at The Inquirer reports that AMD and Qimonda have talked the German Ministry of Research and Education into footing the US$12 million bill for some next-generation process research. The idea is for AMD's and Qimonda's engineers to work together with young German engineers in order to look at ways to simulate chips at 32nm and smaller process nodes.
Speaking of the Europeans and AMD, Frenchman and former AMD marketing exec Henri Richard has announced that after leaving AMD he's headed all the way across the street to Freescale. He can do the same thing at a different Texas semiconductor company, and he won't even have to buy a new chateau.
Also leaving AMD's marketing department prior to Barcelona's launch is VP of worldwide sales, Richard Hegberg.
I hope the seeming exodus of marketing VPs at AMD in the run-up to Barcelona isn't indicative of serious problems at the company, but I'm not going to worry about it unless a third one goes. Like they say in the military: once is bad luck, twice is coincidence, and three times is enemy action.
Last on the list of AMD news bits is the company's new gaming site, which is aimed at selling you AMD hardware. They even have a handy system upgrade tool that tells you that you need to buy new AMD products to play X or Y game, along with various community features like clan sites, forums, etc.
My favorite feature of the gaming site has to be the gray tabbed browsing box on the right, which has little white icons that you can click to move to a new tab. Where have I seen this before….?