By, Richard Magnano (ProperMethodz) and Pascal Cheslow (Cullam3n)
July 22, 2005
Yesterday I used a vacation day wisely to attend the AMD Microsoft 2005 Tech tour with Cullam3n. This entire day, while extremely informative seemed no more then a six hour commercial for the release of Windows 64 and an advertisement for the release of dual core processing. I will do my best to cover the more informative portions of the trip and weed out all the glitter and glam.
Overall the day was well worth the time and energy we spent to get there. Well worth the $20 that Cullam3n lost costing us half our cash for the day. Luckily AMD and Microsoft fed us well with a massive buffet with turkey, ham, Chinese, pasta... Basically they hit every corner of the globe with the food they had out for us.
This Tech Tour is aimed at resellers and IT professionals which is something I fall under, in both categories.
We arrived at the hotel and had to drive around the parking lot a few times to get a spot and eventually ended creating our own. We parked the car and proceeded to follow a few Asian dudes in who most definitely looked the part of some people attending a technology conference.
We made it upstairs to registration and boy was I antsy. I was frustrated with the lack of organization at the registration table and how the lady sat at the end without letting people know where they should go. The lines were a mess and people were hands off when it came to getting people into the door.
We finally got in the door to 100s of people who were walking around checking out vendor booths and dropping off business cards for the many raffles which were going on for free stuff. I entered my name in every one of them by writing my name on numerous business cards provided by the vendors there. I'm guessing by telling all of them my e-mail I should be full of spam by the end of the week.
Finally the show started and AMD made their intro with Andy as the MC. He seemed very excited to be on stage and had a cockiness only rivaled by yours truly. Their first demonstration to show off the new 64 dual core technology required a couple of volunteers from the audience. I promptly raised my hand and low and behold... they called me. The demonstration they were using was for a foot race against a guy down the aisle, proceed around a racing tire, and push it back to the starting line. I basically wiped the floor with this dude which led to the second part of the demonstration where I went to a different aisle where two tires waited for me to get at the end and they added another volunteer to help the other guy with his now two since he was alone now. So my task was one man to accomplish two tasks while they had two men accomplishing the same two tasks. Get it? Two men... two cores... They beat me but I got a hat out of it. I then proceeded to my seat and Andy now referred to me by first name for the rest of the show. Everyone knew me now... I won!
Anyway, it was now time to wrap up the first half of the show and eat. They had a HUGE layout (as I said earlier), with loads of food from every corner of the globe. I wasn't feeling well at this time and ate small amounts over the course of the hour to get at least something in my belly. Cullam3n and I canvassed the room and met and mingled. We introduced ourselves and impressed the masses with our knowledge of news which people had no clue of. It seemed that nobody in the room had answers which we were looking for. We were there with a mission to find out more on the new AMD announcements of where they planned to be in the future, and how the AMD v. Intel case was going. We ran into brick walls for both topics. We weren’t able to get any information on these two major subjects which owned our curiosity.
After the dinner break it was time to head in for more "news" and demos for the AMD Microsoft partnership. Or in other words, time for more commercials.
The points which grabbed our attention the most were the specifications for the new dual core processors and how well they conserved power compared to the chief competitor (Inhel).
Some really cool things we learned:
- 32 bit apps can operate and run in the Windows 64 bit environment without performance loss.. Drivers cannot. So basically if you have a system which is 64 bit capable and you have all the latest 64 bit drivers your overall system will reap more benefits for performance.
- Dual core processors will have the same power consumption as single core processors. So the previous ~90W which single core AMD64 processors consume will be synonymous for the dual core making cooling a snap. This also is very important when you are talking about server farms which have severe power requirements.
- The abilities of the dual core processor compared to Inhel are best compared to the DDR RDRAM comparison. What kind of RAM is in your computer?
- To gain a total 47% increase in performance (wow : http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/ProductInformation/0,,30_118_8796_8800,00.html) all you need to do is change the processor which costs the same as it’s single core little brother. http://www.pricewatch.com/
Microsoft put on a very surprisingly good demonstration of Media Center. It had some amazing resources and search engines which actually did wow the audience… Me included. There was this amazing search feature which searched out odd things in the world. I mean some really odd things. Cullam3n can go into them further. I went to their site (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/default.mspx) to the demonstration for Media Center and couldn’t find the search feature. The quality of it’s recording and how many things it did was very impressive. The smoothness of them ne
We then went back into the demonstration of how easy it is to upgrade from a single core AMD 64 processor to a Dual Core processor. They first started by showing the room how well two single core processors rendered an image on the graphical benchmark. The benchmark showed how two processors can split a task and render different portions of an image. After the two single core Opterons completed the task in 49 seconds, they called for my return on stage, handed me a Ferrari red Polo shirt with the AMD logo on the front and the Ferrari logo on it. I was invited on stage to watch the technician replace two single core Opteron 850s, with two Dual Core Opteron 270 and assure everyone there was no “smoke and mirrors” to it. The “Fat Fingered Man” took roughly 7 minutes to complete the task of switching out the processors and fired the slow to boot Tyan board. I had asked if I could race him for the box we were
After the switch Cinebench was started again rendering the same image, but this time the process was split in four and rendered the image in 31 seconds which is a just about a 63% increase.
At the very end of the show I had the chance to have a heart-to-heart with the Microsoft representative. He wasn’t happy to see me since my Q&A didn’t involve Microsoft but rather my concerns were with how AMD would now be able to operate on a Unix based Apple operating system. I’ll allow Cullam3n get into it a bit more later.
So the conversation was involving how much the operating system costs to the consumer, especially since volume licensing isn’t a feasible solution for a home environment, purchasing licenses for a residence is very pricy. He kept deflecting me off on to how you can purchase volume licensing for homes. A great point which one of the other Micro$haft employees brought to my attention was that when you purchase Volume Licensing you DO NOT get the base operating system. You instead get a renewable agreement which allows for upgrading your current operating system. I guess this was confusing since upgrades are downloaded through “Windows Updates”. This all seemed a little confusing, and wasn’t explained well to me. Basically I felt that they were trying to trick me to thinking that they were doing me a favor and offering me something which was “cheap”. I don’t know if anyone else has attempted to purchase volume licencing, but it isn’t cheap. And Software Assurance where version upgrades are included is even more pricey this all seemed just plain shady.
I may be a little vague with my explaination of how these things actually work because honestly I really don’t understand it. Which is a shame since I’m someone who should understand this. It’s just not explained well.
Anyway, I totally wish that I had asked one simple question.
“Why not lower the price on the operating system, making it more appealing to the people who are pirating the software?”
I mean the people who I’ve heard, pirate the software aren’t doing it to get over on Microsoft… Rather, they do it because they can’t afford it. Why not just make it available to the masses and this way you (Microsoft) can have your Validated License and no longer have to spend all your money and taxpayers money going after people who you claim as criminals.
I will add here that I LEGALLY OWN ALL MY LICENSES WHICH INCLUDE:
3x Windows XP Professional
1x Windows XP Home Edition
1x Windows Server 2000
1x Windows Server 2003
Thanks Micro$haft for my over $5000 in software which is all contained on 6 CDs.
I’ve shown my side of the most of the first half of the show. I’ll allow Cullam3n to take over, and tell his part and the points which he remembered. I’ll also give him the opportunity to tell the best part of the show… When 7hm gets involved in a Q&A with AMD and Microsoft on a stage…
After not finishing a quest that I and $hellcodr were trying to do all night, I thought the next day was going to go horribly.
Well, I was right. But I was also wrong.
I buttoned up with a nice white button down shirt (that had some chocolate stains later that Rich pointed out from someone) and a pair of good kicks, and I was ready. We were running late, but then again, that was the usual.
After in-depth conversations and conversations about the traffic, and also after asking for directions from a nearby hotel, we arrived at our destination. We were a little late, but apparently we were not the only ones.
I know the day was going to be good when I realized the AMD representative that was helping me (in my line, not Rich’s, who’s line looked like that of a blue whale) with my registration was making conversation… I looked up and she was pretty nice. I made some conversation, looked at the goodies that I got in my official AMD bag, and went inside to the main convention room.
Wow. We looked around and saw booths from companies such as Tyan, ATI, Leadtek and Foxconn (who were/are? partners), MSI and a few others. There was no nVidia booth. As I was surveying the room, Rich said he’d be right back. I looked at him running to the MSI booth, probably asking them if they ever decide to answer tech support in the future, and to complain about his board.
I was sitting there talking with various reps, getting two business cards from each: one to keep and one to write my information on, on the back, to hand it in on the raffles they were having. After running around to a few of the booths, the show began to start, and I took my seat.
Now normally it’s wise to take these shows and what they say with a grain of salt, simply because it’s all about them selling their product. However, the knowledge that I knew coincided very nicely with what AMD was saying and their message across was clear: AMD whoops Intel’s ***. They did not get into dual core until the second half of the show, the first half was all about the problems that many companies had with their servers, and how AMD processors work, and about Microsoft and whatever garbage they had to spew at that given moment.
They kept the show alive, adding spice here and there, to make it interesting. Rich actually got called for a race, which I’m sure he talked about above.
One thing I will say though. Not only do AMD processors kick ***, but their massive array of food was excellent as well. Whether it was AMD or the Hilton, they damn sure knew how to feed me. Bowtie pasta or noodles, stir-fry, white/dark meat, even dessert... I had a blast. I met two guys who came, who worked at the local Best Buy, and were part of the Geek squad. We were sharing stories, and one of my questions for any tech is how many coffee incidents have you had. (I told them about yours Shell ). We talked for a little bit, as I was pigging out, and then after I went back to the booths and then the show.
I was fascinated, even though I already knew, how they compared the AMD dual processors/dual cores work. What AMD kept stressing throughout and throughout the show was they got rid of the FSB (Front Side Bus bottleneck). With a front side bus, such as in Socket A systems and all Intel systems at the moment, the I/O bus and memory controller are located in the same place. The memory communicates to the chipset, and then the chipset communicates to the processor. However, the PCI bus also communicates to the chipset, and then to the processor. What this means is that the Front Side Bus, usually at a slow 100-200mhz, is that it bottlenecks the whole system because everything has to communicate to the chipset and the processor can only receive one piece of information at a time, at 200mhz for example.
This doesn’t sound too bad for a single processor, but try adding another processor, or even another core. The processors/cores connect to the chipset via the Front Side Bus, and they have to take turns for their vital one piece of information. As more processors and more cores are added, the bottleneck becomes bigger and bigger.
How do you fix it? Well AMD apparently thought in the future, as they saw the problem back in 1999. Two things make their processors so much faster: Onboard memory controller and Hyper Transport.
The memory controller is physically on the CPU. The Front Side Bus is eliminated and replaced by Hyper Transport (HT), which works at a much faster rate. The CPU communicates directly to it’s banks of memory. The HT link works at 1 ghz, which is incredible bandwidth. I believe that’s 6.4gbs of bandwidth. Not only is the HT link between the CPU and memory, it’s between the CPU and the I/O controller.
Not only is this fast for single and dual core processors, the bottleneck is less and less as the number of processors increase. The AMD processors and cores communicate directly to the RAM. And for the Opertons, they are also have what’s called Direct Connect, which means that there is a HT link between the processors.
I don’t mean to bore you with facts, but with what I have stated above, that’s all AMD needs to have to edge on Intel. Nowadays, clock speeds aren’t even important anymore. The fact that Micro$haft is working hard almost exclusively on AMD64 platforms for their next generation OS is even better for AMD.
As you can tell, writing reviews is not my forte. However, one more interesting thing of the night. At the end of the show, there was a Q/A session, where the audience could ask anything it wants to the AMD/Micro$haft reps on stage. For me, I asked a simple question. I asked something along the line of “Are they going to be any more revisions to the onboard memory controller that will allow the RAM to run at 1T Command Rate, or can Command Per Clock be enabled (same thing), in the future?”
Everyone on stage was like “Uhh…..”
Rich was pleased. One of the AMD guys talked up and said “Do you mean like CAS latency’s or what, what are you talking about?”
So I had to sit there and explain what the difference between 1T and 2T command rate is, and how performance is affected… the answer that I got was not the answer I was looking for. I was looking for a simple yes/no, and I got the typical beat-around-the-bush-because-I-have-no-idea-what-you-are-talking-about bull****. I actually asked one of the AMD guys after the show, and he told me it’s a motherboard issue and not an issue with the memory controller.
A highlight of the show was that Rich was called yet again to survey how quick it was to change from single-core Opteron processors to dual-core processors. Rich needed to give some advice to the AMD guy about how to take off the heatsinks easier, but the process was done within 10 minutes. Cinebench was used to benchmark how fast the render would render with two single-core processors and two dual-core processors at the same speed. The results were clearly better… 41 to 32 seconds. The bigger thing that I got a hardon about was how the processors rendered the rendering. On two single core processors, the picture was split in half; one rendered the top half, one rendered the bottom half.
With two dual cores, it started rendering in 4 places. I said alright, as expected. But what I didn’t expect was the fact was that as one section was being finished, the core would go help another core with it’s rendering. It was like the cores always wanted something to do. That shocked my mind entirely.
Anyway, it was a good experience as my first real tech show, and I hope I go to more. I just hope the traffic will be better, to and fro, this time.