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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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RE: ??
By FranksAndBeans on 3/4/2008 5:32:57 PM , Rating: 2
I understand the problem of developing a laptop gpu card standard. People always reference desktops but packaging, cooling, and power are a lot more flexible in desktops. With PCI, AGP, and PCI-e, the desktop standards stayed the same. But if you tried to constrain also the packaging (card size and cooler) and also power use (higher bus power, 2nd and sometimes even 3rd power connections) all of a sudden you realize desktop cards aren't really standardized at all, despite being more flexible. You just can't ask for all those open ends in a laptop package.

Far as a desktop GPU dock is a reasonable idea, but the market is very limited. Dell has a latitude dock with a PCI (no e) slot that runs about $250 retail. Consider racking that up to PCI-e standards and also having enough juice and cooling, and all of a sudden you're talking about $400 hardware. I like the idea as much as the next guy but the costs are just prohibitive.

This hybrid crossfire system and/or disabling of the "heavy" graphics cards seems like the long term winner to me. It was even fortold by Sony trying it in some of their laptops already. Sony has a habit of pushing tech too early. I'll be happy to see this solution take off.

If AMD's next gen integrated chips run 5x faster than X3100... that's really going to shake things up a lot and make the term "budget gaming laptop" not so silly anymore. Even better it'll make Intel get off their buts and stop slinging totally abysmal graphics solutions. It drives me crazy seeing a $2,000 business class laptop that can't run small avi files smoothly in powerpoint presentations... and yet nobody seems to care or know any better.


"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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