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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.


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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.


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