When chip-maker AMD released its latest Opteron server chips, based on the Bulldozer architecture, hopes were high that the powerful processor would launch the company into direct competition with Intel. Early reviews were less than laudatory, though; the chips’ poor performance can be traced in part to the fact that current versions of Windows were not configured to take advantage of the Bulldozer’s multi-threaded TurboCore features.
AnandTech offers a visual representation of the problem, which is essentially that the task scheduler puts threads on multiple modules rather than exploiting Bulldozer’s ability to have a single module share threads. This means Windows views each dual-core block as a single core, negating Bulldozer’s competitive advantage.
In response, Microsoft announced a manual hotfix download for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 last week, which promised to fix the task scheduler issue. That patch has since been withdrawn, with Microsoft saying it was released prematurely, with a second part not yet ready to be pushed live. This makes sense, considering that some users reported that the fix actually decreased Bulldozer performance instead of improving it (a 2-7% increase had been touted).
Microsoft is reportedly working on an updated version – and the issue is already addressed in Windows 8 and Windows Server 8. The effort to support Bulldozer shows that the company has not given up on AMD just yet; but it remains to be seen how the rest of the market will respond.
Do you think AMD can compete in the Windows Server chip market – or is Bulldozer dead on arrival, with or without this fix? Tell us in the comments, or on Twitter @WindowsTT.