Is AMD's crucial quad-core CPU delayed?

6th Jun 2007 | 23:00

Is AMD's crucial quad-core CPU delayed?

Server and desktop chips will not hit summer launch target

Will AMD 's all-important quad-core PC processor miss its summer launch window? Several reports from the Computex tech jamboree in Taiwan indicate that AMD's June/July launch schedule for the new chip has slipped until at least September/October.

Earlier this week, a report from CitiGroup analyst Glen Yeung indicated that vendors, distributors and motherboard makers were expecting AMD's quad-core architecture, codenamed Barcelona, to be delayed until the autumn.

Meanwhile, supercomputer maker Cray Research announced that its next system, to be based on AMD quad-core processors, had been postponed. According to US financial news outlet Dow Jones, a Cray spokesman fingered AMD's processors as the cause of the delay.

However, it later emerged that the Cray machine will actually use the later Budapest revision of AMD's quad-core CPUs, not the initial Barcelona chip.

What exactly is going on? Tech.co.uk's spies on the show floor in Taiwan suggest AMD may have sent its quad-core architecture back to the fab for a minor design revision or respin. If true, it would certainly torch any chances of seeing quad-core Opteron processors in servers and workstations this summer.

Prime time processor

Certainly, the fact that AMD has declined to give Barcelona an official unveiling at Computex suggests the chip is not quite ready for the prime time. As does the total dearth of sample chips running at final clock speeds.

Just a handful of relatively low-clocking engineering chips running at between 1.6GHz to 2.3GHz have been spotted at Computex. But it's thought Barcelona will have to hit speeds in excess of 2.5GHz to successfully take on Intel's competing quad-core chips.

Less clear is the impact any delay might have on the availability of Barcelona 's desktop cousin, known as Agena in AMD codename parlance. To be sold under the Phenom brand name, the quad-core processor for desktop PCs is essentially a repackaged version of the Barcelona processor die.

AMD's original roadmap slated Phenom to appear a few months after Barcelona. If AMD sticks to this schedule, it could be left with no competitor for Intel's awesome Core 2 Quad processors until at least the end of the year.

In a recent meeting with Tech.co.uk, AMD insisted its new quad-core architecture was ship shape and on time. However, it declined to divulge a precise launch date or timing for the availability of samples. Jeremy Laird

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