RealTime IT News

AMD Lays Out '09 Technology Direction

SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- Just as AMD gets set to ship its long-awaited quad-core "Barcelona" processor for servers and workstations, the chipmaker laid out a roadmap for smaller computer devices that won't see the light of day till 2009.

At a "Technology Day" here for analysts at its Silicon Valley headquarters, AMD  laid out its product road map ranging from handheld and desktop systems to high-end servers.

"Bobcat" and "Bulldozer" are codenames for computer "cores" AMD is developing as part of its "Fusion" project. Fusion integrates AMD's processor technology with the graphics chips technology it now owns as a result of last year's acquisition of ATI.

Bobcat is a very low power consumption technology designed for low-end devices, including handheld computers, phones and ultra-mobile PCs. AMD also discussed Bobcat's potential use in future DTV  digital televisions that incorporate Internet connectivity, and Web browsers.

AMD chief technology officer Phil Hester said Bobcat is a system-on-a-chip  approach that could find its way into many different kinds of devices. "We have a lot of IP (intellectual property) around it," said Hester. "We could do an ultramobile PC. There's going to be a convergence of access devices."

In May, Intel  discussed "Silverthone", a SoC also designed for small devices. By 2010, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said he expects the Silverthorne chip would be one-ninth the size of current chips and use one-twentieth the power.

He also predicted that new markets for mobile Internet devices, consumer electronics and ultra low-cost PCs, would be worth $10 billion each by 2011, and that these would be entirely new markets that don't exist today.

Analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group said AMD is smart to invest in the mobile device market and will be helped immensely by technology it acquired in its acquisition of ATI.

"Small form factors like the iPhone are the big thing. Apple woke the hell out of the industry and now everyone is focused on it," Enderle told internetnews.com.

Enderle said AMD is in a transition to new technology and it's important for the company to reveal more of its game plan going forward. "Barcelona will help AMD stop the market share it's been losing to Intel on the server side," he said. "Intel's running pretty fast now, AMD can't catch it from behind, but with technology like Bobcat it can come at Intel from a different angle."

Bulldozer is a next generation core for future AMD-powered small computers as well as desktops and servers. "Bulldozer is designed to be the highest performing single and multi-threaded core in the industry," said Hester.

At last year's Technology Day, AMD discussed several forthcoming technologies, such as Barcelona, including two that weren't mentioned today – Raiden and Torrenza. Raiden is thin client technology; Torrenza opens up AMD processors to specialized co-processors to enhance performance (such as a Java co-processor) that could be developed by other companies.

AMD's VP and chief sales and marketing officer, Henri Richard, told internetnews.com that both projects were alive and well. "We have more Torrenza devices than a year ago. We just didn't want to repeat too much of what was said last year."