AMD will be forced to delay the ramp of its Barcelona server processor after running into a bug, the company has confirmedAMD will be forced to delay the ramp of its Barcelona server processor after running into a bug, the company has confirmed. Barcelona, AMD's first quad-core processor for servers, is shipping to some customers in the high-performance computing market. But the company had hoped to start shipping it to a wider variety of customers this month, as well as introduce a faster model that could better compete with Intel's latest Penryn chips.
Unfortunately for AMD, that's going to have to wait, according to a company spokesman. The Tech Report has an excellent description of the problem that AMD encountered with the translation lookaside buffer used in cache memory, which also affects the Phenom desktop chips.
Even though the company has developed a workaround for the errata, this is awful news for AMD. Every chip company will come across errata (think of them like bugs in a new OS release) with the arrival of a new chip. Most of them are minor, and can be fixed pretty quickly after launch with a simple code update. This one requires a bit more work, hence the delay. Still, it's far from a disaster: it's not like AMD is recalling the chip.
The problem is more one of confidence in the company's ability to get products out the door. By the time Barcelona really starts to hit its stride in the first quarter of next year, it will have been almost a year since AMD originally intended to launch the chip. AMD needs Barcelona not only as a boost for the company's psyche but also as a profit engine: server chips are way more profitable than PC chips.
And in the meantime, Intel is firing on all cylinders. Its second-generation Penryn quad-core processors are available from server vendors and in standalone boxes from companies like Newegg. And the next generation of chips, called Nehalem, will borrow the design techniques that have made AMD's chips so successful over the last few years.