AMD Adds Mobile R&D Lab

AMD is investing time and energy in developing chips for more than just the server or desktop.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker said it is continuing development on three of its chip families — Athlon 64, Alchemy and Geode —
for low-power form factors including thin-and-light laptops, consumer
electronics and communication devices. The announcement on Wednesday
coincided with the opening of a research and engineering laboratory at AMD
Japan’s Tokyo headquarters.

The company has assigned Steve Polzin, AMD Fellow and Chief Platform
Architect, to initially manage the facility with as many as 20 engineers
joining him over the next 12 to 18 months. Research will run the gamut of
low-power issues such as electrical, thermal and silicon designs. The team
is expected to work closely with AMD’s silicon engineering teams in Austin,
Texas and Dresden, Germany, as well as platform engineering teams in Austin
and Taipei.

AMD said it chose Tokyo for the lab because it felt the Japanese market
has been leading the rest of the world in mobile computing adoption. With
notebook PCs outselling desktop units since 2001, Japan’s thirst for mobile
devices shows no sign of slowing down. In 2003, AMD noted that the notebook
segment comprised nearly 55 percent of the Japanese PC market and continues
to expand.

“Japan is the country where mobile computing trends are set,” said Kazuo
Sakai, corporate vice president, sales and marketing, AMD South Asia Pacific
and Japan. “By establishing this new engineering lab in Tokyo, our Japanese
customers will be able to influence and contribute to mobile device feature
definitions in a more significant way.”

Already, AMD has found an interested development partner in Sharp
Electronics, which said it would work closely with AMD to develop future
notebook PCs.

The new Athlon64 notebooks are expected to include AMD’s multi-tasking
HyperTransport technology as well as an antivirus feature that works in
concert with the upcoming Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 to prevent
common attacks like buffer overflows.

AMD said its Personal Connectivity Solutions Group (PCSG) will be looking
at new ways of developing the company’s Alchemy and Geode chips for
multimedia devices as well as growth opportunities in consumer electronics
and communication segments.

The Geode processor family is part of AMD’s non-PC Internet Appliance
market. Along with its Alchemy processor family, the company is targeting
multimedia, access devices, computing devices, with growth opportunities in
consumer electronics and communication segments. The new chips are expected
to compete with other fanless, low-power processors such as rival chipmakers
Transmeta and their with its Crusoe and Efficeon chips
as well as Intel’s XScale product line.

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