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AMD pushes x86/graphics CPU to 2011

Posted: 18 Nov 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:processors  32 nm  x86  graphics cores 

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has pushed back its plans to introduce processors that combine x86 and graphics cores to 2011 when it will roll its first 32 nm products.

At an analysts' event, AMD also sketched out for the first time its plans for 32 nm chips in 2011, a process it was originally expected to use for products in 2010.

The company has cancelled Shrike, a dual-core 45 nm processor that was to be the company's first to combine graphics and x86 cores in 2010. The combination of graphics and x86 cores was one of the motivating forces behind AMD's multi-billion dollar acquisition of ATI Technologies, as well as a focus of its current Fusion marketing campaign.

Replacing Shrike, AMD has decided to move up to 2010 its plans for a four-core notebook processor in a BGA package. The chip will have equal or better performance and lower cost and power consumption than Shrike, said Randy Allen, general manager of AMD's computing solutions group

"As we have gotten more mature information about the 45 nm process technology we were seeing product improvements [for Shrike] in all three areas [of performance, power and cost] in single digits," said Allen.

"Shrike in 45 nm would deliver modest improvements, but we see huge improvements in 32 nm which is the sweet spot for the convergence so graphics and x86 cores," Allen said.

"We always knew that 32 nm would deliver the big benefits" for combined x86 and graphics cores, "and the 45 nm benefits would be more incremental," Allen added.

The move comes at a time when AMD is focusing its efforts on mainstream computer platforms as part of its strategy to get back to profitability. "We have to focus predominantly on mainstream and value products," Allen said.

For its part, archrival Intel Corp. is expected to release a notebook processor that includes a graphics core, perhaps before the end of 2009.

Allen also described for the first time AMD's plans for 32 nm processors it will now deliver in 2011. The Orochi and Llano chips will be the first to use AMD's next-generation Bulldozer core. The desktop chips will have four x86 cores and support four to eight MB cache and DDR3 memory.

Also in 2011, AMD will deliver Ontario, a 32nkm notebook chip with two x86 and one graphics core, supporting DDR3 memory. The Llano chip will also include a graphics core.

The changes come at a time when AMD and the PC market in general is under increasing pressure. AMD has announced two rounds of layoffs in 2008, and analysts project a decline in PC sales in 2009.

-Rick Merritt
EE Times

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