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.