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AMD Practicing Flash Alchemy

Advanced Micro Devices AMD Tuesday unveiled its chip strategy for its Alchemy chips for better navigation and entertainment systems in cars.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker released its AMD Alchemy Solutions Driver Information Reference Design Kit (RDK), which is based on the company's Alchemy Solutions Au1500, MIPS32 technology-based system on a chip (SOC), processor and Flash memory technology.

The RDK is a hardware and software platform that supports Ethernet, USB, control area network (CAN) and media-oriented system transport (MOST) buses for automotive networks, 2D and 3D graphics, analog and digital video playback and expansion connectors for a complete car audio sub-system.

In addition, the Driver Information RDK is supplied with a complete board support pack (BSP), supporting both Microsoft Windows CE for Automotive and QNX Neutrino Real Time Operating System (RTOS), as well as a complete design file including bill of material, schematics, and gerber files from the platform's CAD design.

The RDK also uses AMD's Flash memory technology - specifically the Am29LV641D device - as a way to feature a very low-power programmed in-system chip.

The company said its developer kit helps create on-screen 3D graphics, turn-by-turn navigation with voice input and voice command through a Global Positioning System (GPS) module and future Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN) connections.

AMD also said the RDK also helps build software and applications development for streaming media, including MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4 and DVD playback, which is becoming more prevalent in mid-priced and high-priced cars.

"While helping to enable advanced information systems and productivity tools such as phone connectivity, web and e-mail access for the driver, this tool also helps enable our customers to lower overall system production cost," said AMD vice president of marketing Phil Pompa.

AMD said its Au1500 chip is great for these types of applications because it includes system peripherals, like a 33/66 MHz 32-bit PCI Controller (PCI 2.2 compliant), GPIO, two 10/100 Ethernet Controllers, USB Device and Host, two UARTS, an AC-97 Controller and a PCMCIA controller.

One area being developed with AMD Flash chips is the idea of the so-called automotive "black box." Similar to recording devices in airplanes, automotive black boxes use GPS and other criteria to help manufactures locate problem areas.

For example, AMD's 16MB Am29BDD160 is designed to operate in high-temperature automotive environments. The company said the chip's qualities make it ideal for applications in advanced automotive systems, including power-train management, high-end engine control modules, and Anti-lock Brake Systems (ABS).

The Am29BDD160 includes Burst functionality, which interfaces with Motorola MPC, InfineonTri-Core, and Hitachi SH-4 series microcontrollers. The device also features AMD's award-winning Simultaneous Read/Write architecture.

AMD Tuesday began sampling the chip in small circles. Production is expected at the end of this quarter.

The company Monday also announced support for Alchemy chips in Personal Connectivity Solutions (PCS) Group product lines.

Products currently offered by PCS include the AMD Alchemy Solutions Au1000, Au1100, and Au1500 MIPS technology-based processors, the AMD Alchemy Solutions Pb1000, Pb1100, and Pb1500 development platforms, and the AMD Alchemy Solutions Mobile Client Reference Design Kit.

AMD said future wireless local area network (WLAN) technologies will also be part of the AMD Alchemy Solutions family brand when announced.