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AMD's PowerXpress technology at work.
AMD goes after Centrino with its "Puma" platform

AMD today paper launched its Puma platform in a press event streamed live over the web. Puma is AMD’s third-generation mobile platform based on AMD’s Griffin processor and RS780M chipset.

AMD first broke news of its Puma platform in April of last year. Information at that time was mainly about the platform’s CPU, Griffin, and the only details revealed about the CPU were rather conceptual in nature.  

Puma is AMD’s first attempt at a “complete” mobile platform. Whereas AMD’s previous mobile platforms had a diluted set of requirements, Puma’s specifications are stronger than previous mobile AMD platforms.

In order to be branded as part of the Puma platform, notebooks must come with a Griffin CPU, RS780M chipset and WiFi adapter -- a discrete graphics card is optional. Since AMD believes in offering its partners “diversity”, it chooses not to follow the route paved by Intel’s Centrino, which requires a Core 2 processor, GM965/PM965 chipset and an Intel wireless adapter to be branded as a Centrino notebook.

Currently, AMD’s Griffin processor, which is officially named Turion Ultra, is only dual core. Although there is a possibility of a quad core Griffin processor, as of right now it is not on AMD’s roadmap.

Griffin chips currently feature 1MB L2 cache per core along with support for DDR2-667 and DDR2-800 SO-DIMM memory (up to 8GB). The two cores communicate with each other via an internal crossbar switch. In addition, the CPU runs on AMD’s updated HyperTransport 3.0 specification.

In order to reduce power draw, AMD says that Griffin features three independent power planes. One power plane is given to each CPU while the third one is taken by the Northbridge. To further help promote power efficiency, AMD says each core can also run at independent frequencies. AMD claims that the cores can dynamically shift frequency levels while executing a thread.

The RS780M includes an integrated Direct X 10 graphics controller which AMD says is four to five times faster than Intel’s X3100 IGP, and brings support for HDMI and HDCP + Audio to Puma via AMD’s Universal Video Decoder. The chipset also features built-in support for two display controllers. Puma does support DisplayPort functionality; however, it is up to each individual board maker to implement in the feature.  

To help save power when running off of battery power, AMD says its PowerXpress technology dynamically switches, without any reboot, from external graphics to integrated graphics. According to the company, the change happens instantly and unnoticeably when changing power sources, however, the option is provided to disable this feature. Likewise, Hybrid Crossfire technology will allow you to use a discrete graphics controller with the integrated graphics controller for increased gaming performance.

As AMD’s answer to Intel’s Santa Rosa, analysts predict that the launch of Puma is crucial to the company’s success and financial well being.

AMD says that Puma plays a pivotal role in the period leading up to the release of its Fusion chips. According to AMD, the tighter integration of the CPU and chipset in Puma serves as a milestone to Fusion.    

AMD says that it has over 100 design wins with Puma and that systems will ship at the end of Q2. Puma-based notebooks will be included on notebooks ranging from $699 to $2,500 at launch.



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All about the features
By djc208 on 3/4/2008 11:47:43 AM , Rating: 2
Die-hards will probably (rightfully) note how the C2D chips are still going to be faster but if AMD can get all the features working, and working well, then it won't really matter.

Hell, I'd like to have the integrated/discreete graphics option on my home machine to save power. One of the reasons I went with the newer ATI graphics card is that it dynamically clocks based upon load.

Of course this assumes that their CPU is efficient enough not to eat into any savings from the other technologies. Even if it doesn't take the world by storm though, it raises the bar for Intel chipsets.




RE: All about the features
By Amiga500 on 3/4/2008 11:51:00 AM , Rating: 5
Is speed the key to laptops or is it battery life?

I for one think its starting to move to battery life, CPUs are now strong enough to do every reasonable job quite quickly. If you need to do heavy processing work, you really should be using a desktop.

If Puma can convincingly beat the Centrino on battery life - then AMD may well have the better product in my opinion - and will capture market share accordingly.


RE: All about the features
By Xerio on 3/4/2008 12:03:40 PM , Rating: 5
If battery life is more important that performance, wouldn't we all have Via CPU's in our laptops? :)

I think it is a balance, and that balance is different for everyone. If I use my laptop strictly for email, word processing, etc, then battery life would be more important to me. If I do the above, but also want to be able to play an occasional game or do some photo/video editing, performance may be more important.


RE: All about the features
By RjBass on 3/4/2008 1:14:07 PM , Rating: 4
To some battery life is the most important, however many of those people have never even heard of VIA. Intel and AMD are usually all the average consumer see's with much more emphasis on Intel. If you show someone a decent VIA powered notebook that has excellent battery life, they will most likely look at you like your crazy since there isn't a nice little Intel sticker on the case.


By StevoLincolnite on 3/4/2008 5:22:42 PM , Rating: 2
Part of the reason why I have kept my Acer for 4 years, It's got a Pentium M 1.6ghz, Might not be the fastest kid on the block, but when it's on battery mode switching it to 600mhz results in significant power savings, not to mention I have under-volted the processor, Plus on Battery the GPU clocks itself down to 90mhz core, 50mhz memory.

Then when I plug it into the AC power, I use SET FSB, And crank the chip to 2.4ghz, and overclock the Radeon 9700Pro 500/500mhz. - Thus it's all the power I need to play games like Oblivion, even Bioshock runs fine using Shadershock, and recently Unreal Tournament 3 ran perfect on low settings with a 1024x768 resolution. - Surprisingly, when overclocked it out benchmarks my Friends Core 2 Duo 1.6ghz and Mobility Radeon 2400 in 3D mark 2003.
And heat is not a big issue either, the fan hardly kicks in even when overclocked, When it's running at 600mhz if you hear the fan, you know somethings wrong :P

Apparently the chip is classed as a "Pentium 4 3.6ghz" processor. - I probably won't upgrade the old laptop, it's mainly the Movies and work on the go machine - and does that job just fine.


RE: All about the features
By MonkeyPaw on 3/4/2008 6:47:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...but also want to be able to play an occasional game or do some photo/video editing, performance may be more important.


True, but when was the last time a dual core CPU was the bottleneck on a system with integrated graphics? If AMD's IGP is indeed that much faster than the X3100, then you will be much happier playing a casual game on Puma. Even then, the IGP will still be the bottleneck.


RE: All about the features
By Samus on 3/5/2008 1:05:25 AM , Rating: 2
VIA CPU's aren't taken seriously because the chipsets they're implemented with in mobile or integrated form are not mature/stable.


RE: All about the features
By eye smite on 3/4/2008 1:03:38 PM , Rating: 3
I think balance would appeal to more folks but you can plug it in and run the cpu wide open or go battery and it will drop back and run for quite sometime. I would replace my original turion laptop with this when it comes out. It's been a good laptop for me and I upgraded from a 1.8ghz turion to a 2.2ghz turion first of this year for a whopping $53. I don't ride the crest of technology, I let the wave go by and get the bargain prices. Can't blame me on that.


RE: All about the features
By MightyAA on 3/4/2008 1:13:00 PM , Rating: 2
Really depends on the user. My laptop replaced three machines: office, occassional travel notebook, and home gaming rig. It's a true portable desktop replacement, but because it needed to be powerful for some things I do with it, it's battery life isn't good. I like the idea that they are doing with the graphics.

But AMD is horrid with notebooks and paper launches. Lead times on their last round of AMD based notebooks were bad do to small stock available as well as price gouging. Add that to being much slower and more expensive than the Intel cpu's and you had a loser. The only advantage was sli which was only available with the AMD cpu.


RE: All about the features
By crystal clear on 3/4/2008 7:58:16 PM , Rating: 2
Take into consideration which O.S. you are using - WinXP or Vista.....Some consider Vista a bloated ,power hungry O.S....

As for the marketshare the price factor decides it all.


RE: All about the features
By Amiga500 on 3/4/2008 11:51:08 AM , Rating: 2
Is speed the key to laptops or is it battery life?

I for one think its starting to move to battery life, CPUs are now strong enough to do every reasonable job quite quickly. If you need to do heavy processing work, you really should be using a desktop.

If Puma can convincingly beat the Centrino on battery life - then AMD may well have the better product in my opinion - and will capture market share accordingly.


RE: All about the features
By Amiga500 on 3/4/2008 11:52:08 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry folks - not quite sure how that happened :-S


By Master Kenobi (blog) on 3/4/2008 12:37:17 PM , Rating: 2
It happens from time to time, no worries.


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