SAN FRANCISCO – At a press and analyst briefing Wednesday in San Francisco, AMD executives discussed the company's roadmap for the remaining year and beyond, including new information on the forthcoming "Barcelona" and delayed R600 graphics launch.
In addition to the official release of its first integrated ATI 690 chipset yesterday, execs on both the GPU and CPU side of the company reassured those in attendance that the R600 family and "Barcelona" quad-core design are still on track for release during the first and second half of this year, respectively.
According to Mario Rivas, executive vice president of AMD's computing products group, the company's Barcelona will yield 42 percent better "floating-point" performance than Intel's Xeon X5355 Clovertown in SPEC_fp benchmark tests.
For SPEC_int, which measures integer-processing tasks, Barcelona will have a leg up on Clovertown again with a performance advantage of more than 10 percent, Rivas said.
"There's speculation about what's going on with CPU business," said Henri Richard, AMD's executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer. "Where's Barcelona? I can tell you it's more of a killer product than anyone thought. I'm not bragging. I know what we've got."
While Richard admitted that business is tough at the moment he said he's confident that AMD is "in a great position going forward."
Wednesday's meeting was also used to clear up what Richard characterized as a swath of misconceptions and rumors concerning the delayed R600 —or, what is to be AMD/ATI's first DirectX 10-capable graphics card.
"We pushed out the launch of the R600 and people thought is must be a silicon or software problem…it's got to be a bug," said Dave Orton, president and chief executiveof ATI. "In fact, our mainstream chips are in 65nm and are coming out extremely fast. Because of that configuration, we have an interesting opportunity to come to market with a broader range of products," he explained.
"Instead of having them separate, we thought, lets line that up, so we delayed for several weeks," Orton continued, referring to the R600 family as a whole, which AMD now says will come out at the same time (a matter of weeks as opposed to months, according to Richard) instead of just the high-end version.
The R600 will be called Radeon x2900 and will be available in XTX (top of the line), XT, and XL variants.
No firm date was ever given for the R600, but last week AMD did admit that the card had been delayed, giving no other reason than to say that the company was "repositioning the card."
According to Dean McCarron of Mercury Research, if AMD—or any other card maker for that matter—doesn't have a product ready to ship by Q4 in a given year, there generally isn't huge rush to get it out the following quarter.
"If they [AMD] didn't have it ready to go by Q4, there isn't a lot of incentive for them to get it off until the 2nd quarter," McCarron said.
"They were probably taking advantage of the extra time they had and making the family more robust."
Wednesday's briefing also took a contentious turn with Richard briefly lashing out at competitor Intel and what he characterized as that company's "marketing gamesmanship" and lack of honesty.
"I'm going to be straight," Richard told the audience, "I think we've been too quiet."
"I'm sick and tired of being pushed around by a competitor who doesn't respect fair and open competition," he added, making clear reference to AMD's larger competitor and what he claimed to be skewed comparisons in integer-specific benchmark tests between the two company's latest CPU offerings.
The reality, Richard claimed, is that dual-core AMD Opteron products are not only competitive with Intel's offerings, but actually lead on some integer-specific benchmarks, adding that the notion that 45-nm process is inherently better than the 65nm process is ridiculous.
McCarron said he agrees to an extent. "People are buying a product based on things like power and performance," he said. "To a degree, the process used to create it is immaterial."
"All benchmarks are valid and all benchmarks are invalid," McCarron added. "Generally, they don't compare like configurations. You pick your best against your competitors worst. It's a very emotional topic. You have engineering specs that are very black and white that are being used in benchmark market that isn't coherent. That gets the people who care about the black and white really upset."