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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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bring it
By Visual on 3/5/2008 8:04:01 AM , Rating: 2
This is really good news. I like that we'll finally get a somewhat decent integrated graphic card - though it's still quite slow. Intel's next IGP is supposed to be twice as fast as the current one, if AMD can give four times faster it wins on this front.

The best feature of all is the ability to switch between integrated and discrete graphic cards though. With this ability, the 3d performance of the integrated card becomes quite irrelevant - and I won't mind it even be reduced instead of the promised 4x increase, if it helped battery life.
This is also a feature of the new nVidia chipsets from what I heard - but considering the Centrino brand requires an Intel chipset, it's not clear if we'll see them in any Intel laptops soon.

This great feature gives me hope that I'll finally see a really high-performing laptop (or even better, a tablet convertible) that also happens to have very good battery life when its performance is not being utilized. Until now, all good performance laptops I've read about lasted very poorly even when not playing 3d games.




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