June 1, 2006 4:21 PM PDT
AMD sets a course for 2008
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This, along with the introduction of a third layer of cache memory shared between cores in the quad-core design, will allow AMD's customers to build SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) servers that can compete with Unix vendors, Hester said. AMD will also maintain a dual-core design for desktops during this time period.
Hester also talked about plans for a new mobile-processor design that implements better power management. AMD just released its first dual-core chip for notebooks. It plans to improve that chip by building power management technologies that can shut down a processing core or system links as demanded by the processing requirements, he said. The quad-core chips also will be able to take advantage of this power-management technology.
AMD is using the same basic core design for its new mobile architecture, but it's improving the power sensitivity of its memory controller, Hester said. The current memory controller used on AMD's Turion mobile chips was originally designed for servers and isn't completely appropriate for the notebook market. The new design will be able to turn on and off in response to workloads, the same way the processing cores react to ebbs and flows in processing requests, Hester said.
The decision to finally develop a chip architecture designed completely for a mobile environment fills a hole in AMD's lineup, said Richard Shim, an analyst at IDC. Notebooks are the fastest-growing part of the PC market, and while AMD has had some success against Intel in this segment, it hasn't duplicated its efforts in the server and desktop segments.
Seyer also announced vague plans for two new technologies code-named Trinity and Raiden. Trinity is software that's designed to bring security, virtualization and management capabilities to both servers and clients. Raiden is a new kind of commercial thin-client architecture that focuses on moving the processing into the server room. The company provided few details about these announcements.
Seyer, tracked down after the briefings, was able to share a little bit more about Raiden. AMD believes that the thin clients of the future won't necessarily be like the underpowered thin clients of the past. Virtualization technologies emerging in AMD's chips could allow for several different types of thin clients. Sometimes, they may run like traditional thin clients, where all the processing is done on a server. Other times the user might want to do more processing on their side.
AMD wants to develop a combination of hardware and software that can provide different levels of "thickness" in clients and servers, Seyer said. But he provided no time frame or specific product plans.
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