AMD expands its processor roadmap
Advanced Micro Devices is looking for redemption in 2008.
After a year that saw a disappointing reception for its quad-core server and desktop microprocessors, and delays in delivering the chips these chips to its OEM partners, AMD stood before Wall Street analysts Dec. 13 with promises of refreshing a large portion of its lineup in 2008.
"Were we disappointed? You bet," Dirk Meyer, the president and chief operating officer of AMD, told analysts on Thursday. "We plan to do better."
AMD's first problem is fixing some technical bugs it discovered. AMD announced last week that the bugs could cause problems with both its quad-core Opteron processor for servers and its desktop model called Phenom.
While the company plans to ship "hundreds of thousands" of quad-core chips this quarter, it will only begin to ramp up its production to optimal levels in the first quarter of 2008, said Mario Rivas, executive vice president of AMD's Computing Solutions Group.
The company also plans to ramp the clock speed of its quad-core Opterons by the first half of 2008. When the chip debuted in September, its maximum clock speed of 2.0GHz was considered underwhelming and AMD has promised to deliver chips that run at 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz soon.
In its server lineup, AMD executives were confident that they would deliver its first 45-nanometer quad-core processor, code named Shanghai, by the second half of 2008. The current quad-core Opteron and Phenom chips are manufactured at 65-nanometers.
By the time this processor hit the street, AMD executives said they were confident all the technical problems would be solved and its manufacturing facilities could meet demand from its customers.
AMD also offered a glimpse of what is to come by the end of the decade.
In 2009, AMD plans to unveil "Montreal", an octo-core server chip for servers, along with a new system platform called "Piranha." This platform will support either quad- or octo-core chips, offer a new AMD chip set and support the company's HyperTransport 3.0 technology—a high-speed chip-to-chip interconnect. The platform will also support DDR3 (double data rate 3) memory.
On the mobile side, Rivas assured the audience that its new "Puma" platform for notebook will be ready for laptops by the first half of 2008.
For desktops, AMD had previously announced a new platform—"Peruses"—for mainstream desktops that will include a combination of its Phenom processors, ATI graphics and new chip set. This desktop platform will hit the market in the first quarter of 2008.
While AMD has made major stumbles in the server market, its notebook and desktops products have proven to be an area of stability for the company and one place where it can mount a serious challenge to Intel. A Dec. 3 report from market research firm iSuppli found the market for desktops and notebooks keeps expanding and both Intel and AMD have befitted from a robust market.
In 2009, AMD is also planning to move a step closer to its dream on combining both the CPU and the GPU (graphics processor unit) on the same piece of silicon. Originally called "Fusion," this program is the realization of the company's acquisition of ATI's graphics portfolio in 2006.
Under a new label called Accelerated Processing Units, AMD will begin offering a chip called "Swift" in the second half of 2009, which will place the GPU and one or more CPUs on the same piece of silicon. The CPU will be part of AMD's Star chip microarchitecture that is being used with the current Phenom lineup.
AMD is also planning a new laptop platform for this chip called "Shrike," but executives offered no details.
In addition to its microprocessors, AMD's ATI division is planning several new graphics releases for January, including low-end and mainstream graphics chips.
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