AMD Dragged To Court Over Core Count On "Bulldozer"

Megalith

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AMD is being accused of falsely advertising that its latest CPUs have eight cores when they may technically only have four.

The lawsuit alleges that Bulldozer processors were designed by stripping away components from two cores and combining what was left to make a single "module." In doing so, however, the cores no longer work independently. Due to this, AMD Bulldozer cannot perform eight instructions simultaneously and independently as claimed, or the way a true 8-core CPU would.
 

evilsofa

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But... but... I thought AMD was a paragon of truthfulness and law-abiding behavior compared to its evil, lying, cheating, manipulative competitors Nvidia and Intel!
 

JMccovery

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I was hoping this story would just be left to die, as this suit is without merit.
 

Obi_Kwiet

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I don't see how you could realistically claim damages. You can only get an idea of performance from benchmarks. You can't claim that you got less performance than advertised because of a semantic difference about what constitutes a core, because that's not sufficient indication of performance anyway.
 

JMccovery

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Because....
Because there is no way to define a 'core' without being horrendously specific, and basically opening other makers up to lawsuits.

Also, it's really hard to prove that Bulldozer-base chips can't utilize 8 instructions.
 

JMccovery

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People should go read the comments on this story over at TechPowerUp, a serious 'wow' moment.
 

Hornet

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I agree that it's technically difficult if not impossible to define what constitute as a core. Another good example of this the ARM big.LITTLE cores. Often we see these ARM CPU being marketed as 8 cores, but in actual fact, only 4 cores are active at one time, and both set of quad cores are very different.

This I hope will serve as a reminder to everyone to not be too focused on core counts. CPUs are more complex than that.
 

variant

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The 8 core Bulldozer has 8 integer units and 8 threads, for all purposes it is an 8 core processor.
 

pxc

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The 8 core Bulldozer has 8 integer units and 8 threads, for all purposes it is an 8 core processor.
Yeah, I don't see a problem with the 8 core description either.

While the higher models contained 4 modules, there's not way to get around counting 8 cores. AMD was open and accurate about which resources each module contained, so the plaintiff's expectations have little to do with how it was introduced and sold.

But I do get why the plaintiff(s) may be disappointed. The module approach was to save die space by sharing resources and not equal to a true 8 core processor. I don't recall AMD ever saying it was equal to a true 8 core processor, so lame lawsuit.
 

ecktt

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The 8 core Bulldozer has 8 integer units and 8 threads, for all purposes it is an 8 core processor.
I'll agree with everything except the very last part. It's easy to create scenarios that break AMD's 8 core paradigm. If the argument is the the average use can't differentiate, they should also say that you can't perceive the difference between a dual core and a "8" core.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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This is ridiculous.
Bulldozer LEGITIMATELY has two cores per module. The Integer Core = The Core, and there are two of them.

They may perform like one (or less) Intel core, but that's another story all together.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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We need AMD to be able to recover and launch a competitive Zen for consumers and K12 for enterprise.

Frivolous lawsuits like this one are only going to increase AMD's burn rate, by using up the precious little cash they have left, and threaten to kill off the only hope we have to make the CPU market competitive again.

Whoever is bringing this suit needs to be taken out to an alley and be thrown a "blanket party"...
 

illram

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Because there is no way to define a 'core' without being horrendously specific, and basically opening other makers up to lawsuits.

Also, it's really hard to prove that Bulldozer-base chips can't utilize 8 instructions.
Makes sense. Thanks for the explanation! :)
 

variant

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I'll agree with everything except the very last part. It's easy to create scenarios that break AMD's 8 core paradigm. If the argument is the the average use can't differentiate, they should also say that you can't perceive the difference between a dual core and a "8" core.
You can create scenarios to break any CPU by using instructions they aren't designed to process well. The closest thing you can call a core is an independent processing unit, of which an 8 core Bulldozer has 8 of them. They are all integer processing units, but that doesn't make them any less independent or any less of a core.
 

atp1916

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If i was Intel, i'd be contributing to AMD's legal defense fund.
 

DeathFromBelow

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The 8 core Bulldozer has 8 integer units and 8 threads, for all purposes it is an 8 core processor.
Exactly. The lawsuit makes no sense, Bulldozer clearly does extremely well in multithreaded workloads, keeping up with Sandy/Ivy i7's at the price of an i5. Running in one-core-per-module mode doesn't really provide much of a performance boost in single threaded workloads. The shared FPU/cache seems to actually work quite well.

Squeezing all those cores on there is the main reason AMD's single-threaded performance is poor compared to Intel's offerings. AMD's integer cores are smaller and less capable individually.
 

Reus

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Let's pretend this is a legit lawsuit, what is to be gained? The legal system is a joke. AMD would take a financial hit they cannot afford. The shitbag lawyers make a few million each. And the actual aggrieved parties get what? A check for $5 in the mail?
 

jbltecnicspro

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I guess a core is only a core if it has a floating point unit. Of which Bulldozer has four. So it's only a four core processor? Whatever. As far as I've always been aware, AMD has advertised eight integer cores. And that's not false.
 

JMccovery

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I guess a core is only a core if it has a floating point unit. Of which Bulldozer has four. So it's only a four core processor? Whatever. As far as I've always been aware, AMD has advertised eight integer cores. And that's not false.
If you go back through computing history and apply that definition, a lot of 'cores' fail that test. Then, the question becomes: "What is the difference between a core and a CPU?"
 

DukenukemX

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Back in the 386 and 486 days the CPUs didn't always come with FPU. Were they less than a core?
 

4saken

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Zarathustra[H];1041957111 said:
We need AMD to be able to recover and launch a competitive Zen for consumers and K12 for enterprise.

Frivolous lawsuits like this one are only going to increase AMD's burn rate, by using up the precious little cash they have left, and threaten to kill off the only hope we have to make the CPU market competitive again.

Whoever is bringing this suit needs to be taken out to an alley and be thrown a "blanket party"...
oh well. Won't ever see AMD being a big player in the enterprise before they are long out of business. Even if by some stroke of luck their next gen, if we even see it, is on par with Intels offerings will any enterprise make a blind jump. Years of disappointing CPU arch to repair at this point.
 

Bowman15

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They should have just sued for performance sucking so much no matter how many modules/cores they tack onto the chip. Intel's latest i3's are better in games than their 8 cores.
 

jbltecnicspro

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If you go back through computing history and apply that definition, a lot of 'cores' fail that test. Then, the question becomes: "What is the difference between a core and a CPU?"
Oh I agree with you. I was just trying to figure out what exactly the lawsuit is about. Only thing I can think of is the difference between modules and cores, as per AMD's definitions.
 

rabidz7

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There are so many CPU designs that a core or even a CPU isn't possible to rigidly define. For example, my PowerPC system has two 970MPs. The 970MP is a BGA CPU that is usually put onto a daughtercard with the VRM and supplementary stuff. The card sockets into the motherboard. The card has only one socket but two separate CPU packages and front-side busses. Each 970MP has one die and two cores, but each core can run totally independently of the other. Some people would call it quad CPU (because each core can run independently). Some would say it's dual-CPU (because it has two dies and packages). Others claim it's single-CPU (because it only has one socket).
 

JMccovery

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Oh I agree with you. I was just trying to figure out what exactly the lawsuit is about. Only thing I can think of is the difference between modules and cores, as per AMD's definitions.
Didn't Intel use the term 'module' when describing how either Atom SoCs or Xeon Phi products are built?
 

odditory

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didn't everyone know AMD cores were just watered down down half-cores? whatever, the market rejected them either way. Intel makes superior products in every way.
 

Criticalhitkoala

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While I'm an Intel guy and have been most of my life. I still wish this bunk of a lawsuit wasnt happening with amd. Competition does help bolster innovation. Intel has pretty much only been competing with themselves the last half decade. While I'm satisfied with their growth I can understand how they would stifle it if real direct competition was out of the market.
 

Quix

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AMD's marketing has always been slightly suspect when it comes to the bulldozer-derived parts. Each bulldozer module has 2 integer queues (the execution units aren't actually totally separate either) and 1 floating point, while it supports 2 hardware threads. It's kinda debatable as to if one bulldozer module is equivalent to two full processing units or not.

The shared hardware is the biggest reason that bulldozer performs so badly per thread as compared to previous AMD chips like the Phenom. Honestly AMD would have been better off trying to improve the Phenom design.
 

variant

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AMD's marketing has always been slightly suspect when it comes to the bulldozer-derived parts. Each bulldozer module has 2 integer queues (the execution units aren't actually totally separate either) and 1 floating point, while it supports 2 hardware threads. It's kinda debatable as to if one bulldozer module is equivalent to two full processing units or not.

The shared hardware is the biggest reason that bulldozer performs so badly per thread as compared to previous AMD chips like the Phenom. Honestly AMD would have been better off trying to improve the Phenom design.
The integer units are separate and each has their own dedicated thread. One integer unit cannot use the other integer unit's thread. The only thing shared is the FPU and L2 cache.

Both AMD and Intel share L3 cache, does that mean neither are multicore at all and are simply one core processors?
 

SamE

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So all 5 people who bought a Bulldozer based processor are suing AMD?
 

DeathFromBelow

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The shared hardware is the biggest reason that bulldozer performs so badly per thread as compared to previous AMD chips like the Phenom.
Nope. You can run Bulldozer chips in one-core-per-module mode on some motherboards to test this, the IPC gains are less that 10%. The shared FPU and cache doesn't seem to have much impact.

The reason they're slower is simple: AMD has smaller/less capable integer cores than their Intel counterparts. AMD's design was gambling on multithreading being more prevalent and beneficial, trading lower IPC for a higher core count.
 

PRIME1

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But... but... I thought AMD was a paragon of truthfulness and law-abiding behavior compared to its evil, lying, cheating, manipulative competitors Nvidia and Intel!
Don't worry all the people who bashed NVIDIA over the 3.5 thing for months, will certainly show up here and bash AMD for this. Yep. Any minute now....just going to wait for it....


Hypocrisy
 

ManofGod

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Don't worry all the people who bashed NVIDIA over the 3.5 thing for months, will certainly show up here and bash AMD for this. Yep. Any minute now....just going to wait for it....


Hypocrisy
Why bash something that is not the case? I have had zero issues running multiple programs on my FX 8 core processors and yes, they are 8 real cores. CMT is just a different way of going about it.
 

PRIME1

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Why bash something that is not the case? I have had zero issues running multiple programs on my FX 8 core processors and yes, they are 8 real cores. CMT is just a different way of going about it.
Priceless :D
 
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