backtop


Print 19 comment(s) - last by Torched.. on Jul 21 at 1:16 PM

AMD moves away from Alchemy and Geode, but hints at more powerful embedded solutions

According to several reports, AMD announced that it will be closing down its embedded microprocessor design facility in Longmont, Colorado. Back in 2003, AMD purchased the facility from National Semiconductor that was working on a system-on-chip processor families. These original Geode embedded processors were x86 compatible processors that were used in devices such as handhelds, competing with Intel's line of ARM architecture XScale processors.

AMD will be cutting roughly 75 jobs from the Longmont location, while another 75 jobs from the same location will be relocated to Ft. Collins, Colorado. According to reports, AMD plans the Ft. Collins location close to where HP has its location.

Closing of the Geode facility marks AMD's second closure of embedded microprocessors as the company previously announced that it sold the Alchemy division to Raza Microelectronics. Interestingly, AMD did not comment on whether or not it would outright sell its Geode division. The Geode processors were known to be more powerful than the Alchemy processors, although they are also generally more expensive. In fact, AMD's Geode NX processor was based on a mobile Athlon processor running at 667MHz to 1.4GHz. According to Erick Salo, AMD's director of marketing for embedded processors, closing the Geode facility was "a design focus decision, rather than a decision about product lines."

Intel this year also sold its XScale division to Marvell for $600 million. The transition Intel said, would take roughly four months to complete. AMD's announcement of the Alchemy line separation came around roughly the same time as Intel's announcement, and the new details about its Geode line seems to confirm AMD's change of focus. Salo indicated that customers showed interest in embedded processors derived from its highly successful Opteron processors. "There is a lot of opportunity there," Salo said.


Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By MercenaryForHire on 7/19/2006 2:41:31 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Salo indicated that customers showed interest in embedded processors derived from its highly successful Opteron processors. "There is a lot of opportunity there," Salo said.


Given the excellent performance/watt of the 1GHz A64 1500+ (yes, it exists, exclusively in HP blades) making some embedded chips off that tangent would be a great plan. Low-consumption, high-powered, x86-64 compatible chips for all!

- M4H




RE: Count me in as a "customer showing interest"
By TomZ on 7/19/2006 3:16:08 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Given the excellent performance/watt of the 1GHz A64 1500+ (yes, it exists, exclusively in HP blades) making some embedded chips off that tangent would be a great plan

I disagree, for two reasons. First, you still won't get power consumption down to where it needs to be with that type of processor, for a device that needs to work a whole day or a week on a battery charge. Performance/watt is one thing, but you also have to look at absolute power consumption, which has to be absolutely minimized in applications like cell phones and PDAs.

Second, the embedded market has no requirement for x86 instruction set architecture in most applications. These systems are developed with C/C++, and have no requirement for BIOS, DOS, Windows, or chipset compatibility. Thus the reason for the dominance of non-x86 architectures in the embedded market, e.g., PowerPC, ARM, DSPs, 8051 family, Zilog, PIC, etc., generally with much lower power consumption than an x86 counterpart.

In my opinion, Geode is being shut down or divested because it can't compete in the embedded market.


By MercenaryForHire on 7/19/2006 3:29:19 PM , Rating: 1
"Embedded" does not always equal "handheld/PDA/cellphone."


By TomZ on 7/19/2006 10:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Embedded" does not always equal "handheld/PDA/cellphone."

That's very true, but outside of that space the battery requirement drops out but the x86 requirement still doesn't drop in. I only see x86 in some applications like industrial control where PC hardware is re-used in small form factors like PC/104 in order to leverage PC development tools. Beyond that, x86 is too inefficient to be able to compete with other architectures like PowerPC, ARM, etc. in high-volume applications, because they are simpler, cheaper, and also typically include a bunch of on-board peripherals that are specialized for a particular task (e.g., engine control). The low end of the microcontroller market is really competitive, and x86 offerings have no traction there.


RE: Count me in as a "customer showing interest"
By encia on 7/20/2006 7:52:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Thus the reason for the dominance of non-x86 architectures in the embedded market, e.g., PowerPC, ARM, DSPs, 8051 family, Zilog, PIC, etc., generally with much lower power consumption than an x86 counterpart.

According to
http://www.tundra.com/NewsRoom/PressReleases/2005/...
With ~60 million p.a. unit sales(2004/2005), PowerPC hardly dominates the embedded market compared MIPS and ARM.


By TomZ on 7/20/2006 9:42:06 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
PowerPC hardly dominates the embedded market compared MIPS and ARM.

I didn't say that PowerPC dominates the market compared to MIPS and ARM. I said that all these architectures together dominate the market relative to x86. I think many people not familiar with the embedded market might not realize this, since they are used to x86 total dominance in PCs. In embedded systems, almost the complete opposite is true.


RE: Count me in as a "customer showing interest"
By encia on 7/20/2006 7:58:41 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
In my opinion, Geode is being shut down or divested because it can't compete in the embedded market.


Factor in "AMD Efficeon". Reference from
http://www.amd.com/us-en/Corporate/VirtualPressRoo...


RE: Count me in as a "customer showing interest"
By TomZ on 7/20/2006 9:43:36 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Factor in "AMD Efficeon".

What market share has this processor/family achieved?


RE: Count me in as a "customer showing interest"
By encia on 7/21/2006 12:10:56 AM , Rating: 2
What was "AMD Efficeon" release date?


RE: Count me in as a "customer showing interest"
By TomZ on 7/21/2006 10:30:34 AM , Rating: 2
OK, so that is a future product. So zero market share.

Your implication is that AMD is not throwing in the towel in the x86 embedded market. Again, in that market, why is x86 even a requirement? Those machines will probably not run Windows, so x86 is not needed. Therefore, this opens up the possibility that those machines instead get lower-cost ARM-based processors, for example, and AMD will again compete with the entire set of embedded processor vendors for the potentially hundreds of thousands of units. Why will they succeed where they have failed in the past? What is different now?


By Torched on 7/21/2006 1:16:56 PM , Rating: 2
I can say for sure that AMD has not thrown in the towel. First, they guarantee 5yr lifespan on all the embedded products. Next, take a look at the GeodeLX adoption rate: http://www.amd.com/us-en/Corporate/VirtualPressRoo...
It seems companies are still designing the LX into new products. The closing will affect new designs not current ones. Most likely, as sugessted by a few, the embedded division will now be working on new low-end opteron design. They just closed the office and moved employees, not sold the division like the alchemy processors.


hmm
By ksherman on 7/19/2006 12:58:16 PM , Rating: 2
how does that bode for the $100 program? I thought they were using these AMD Geode processors...




RE: hmm
By ksherman on 7/19/2006 1:13:47 PM , Rating: 2
and by "$100 program", I mean to say $100 LAPTOP program

:-)

I definetly think an edit button would be well used :)


RE: hmm
By mino on 7/19/2006 1:35:17 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing. As they said this is product development focus decision, not production decision.

hence you should expect no new spectacular designs based on their current ones in the future.

Makes sense, on 45nm (the time K7-based Geode runs out of steam) the opteron would be a more suitable base for embedded systems than the NX, not to mention archaic Geode LX core.


RE: hmm
By u2601 on 7/19/2006 1:55:46 PM , Rating: 2
Lets just say that I wouldn't hold my breath on the $100 laptop using Geode parts... The whole Geode acquisition has been troublesome from the start (I'm speaking with first hand knowledge...)

The decision to cut these products was taken(in my opinion) largely because they have underperformed revenue and volume wise due in large part to inflated market size expectations created by folks such as Mr. Salo quoted in this article.

Just an FYI, the Geode NX is actually just a Barton core with the voltage turned down a bit to lower power consumption... The Geode LX is a design that was inherited from National Semiconductor..


RE: hmm
By u2601 on 7/19/2006 1:57:17 PM , Rating: 2
Oops, didn't see that you already had K7 based NX in your post... Sorry about that.. :)


RE: hmm
By Torched on 7/20/2006 8:43:48 AM , Rating: 2
The Geode LX still has its niche and let me tell you why:
The old Via eden core is obsoleted. There is a market for low power embedded x86 processors, VIA did not obsolete the eden because of profit but because Intel refused to renew IP VIA was borrowing. The LX is actually now trickling into this niche. Amd took a poor performance 586 core and tacked on thier newest ddr controller whilst maintaining an ultra low power envelope(just over 1W total power draw). The eden never got this low in power consumption and there isn't a comparable 586 level SoC with as many features.
I don't think AMD will kill off the line. If anything they just established the LX. NX on the other hand, has not had many design wins. The old GX is dead, deservedly so. I'm curios to see if AMD can take what they learned from the National Semi line and translate that to the embedded Opteron side of buisness.


ERRATA
By mino on 7/19/2006 5:42:03 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, this my post is an clear example of incompehensive sentence construction :)

"opteron would be" -> "K8-based core would be"

Also CPU+GPU+DRAM+FLASH on chip through Torrenza sound wondelfull. Take some low-power HT I/O controller(ULi 1697 anyone?) and the platform is here.


AMD as already given it.
By nserra on 7/20/2006 4:49:50 AM , Rating: 2
AMD Licenses x86 Processor Technology to Chinese Government [UPDATED]:
http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/cpu/display/200510241...

AMD Clarifies Geode Licensing to China:
http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/cpu/display/200510250...

They dont need it.





"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki