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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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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.


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