Instead of ramping up clock speed, the processor industry is moving towards putting more cores inside of computer chips. We all find this to be a good thing, and AMD recently blogged about a fact that we all think to be true – the more cores, the merrier.
In a post titled, "Cores – More is Better", AMD's John Fruehe, Director of Product Marketing for Server/Workstation, revealed some of the chipmaker's shipment data – information that is usually kept confidential.
"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."
Fruehe came up with three scenarios that could be driving the demand for the company's 12-core Magny Cours chip over the 8-core version.
Virtualization – Many customers have told me that they have a rule of “one VM per core”, so with 12-core processors, their consolidation can get even denser. With 24 cores in a 2P server, there are plenty of resources to allow all of the VMs to have plenty of access to compute power whenever they need it.
Database/Business Apps-Databases are the kings of simultaneous multi-user access. Having a dozen cores in a socket helps ensure that all of your queries come back quickly, your reports aren’t delayed and when you are making new sales, you’re not waiting behind that bonehead in marketing to finish finding out who bought toothbrushes in Toledo last Tuesday.
High Performance Computing – If you are breaking a big problem up into millions of smaller pieces and pushing that out to a cluster to solve, having 12 cores per processor means that you can dramatically cut the time involved through parallel processing. Folks like CSCS in Switzerland are taking advantage of AMD’s 12-core technology with their new Cray XE6 system that was recently installed.
This demand for more cores is a good sign for AMD, as the company is set to sample Bulldozer later this year, with roll out for the next-gen chip in 2011.
"That message is very good to hear because next year will see 16 total cores in our Bulldozer-based products," concluded Fruehe.
I wonder what will be Intel's counter-offer besides Sandy-bridge?
Wrong. People have been somewhat vocal about rather having ramped up clock speeds than more cores. Oh well though, now we are just waiting until coding will actually make good use of the cores.