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Even before AMD's 65nm K10 architecture hits store shelves, the company is talking about the 45nm shrink

This summer, AMD will announce its first major architectural change since the introduction of the K8 architecture in 2003.  This new architecture, dubbed K10, will first make an appearance in the server space, with the introduction of the Barcelona-family processors.

K10 features a native quad-core design that incorporates shared-L3 cache, HyperTransport-3 support and backwards functionality with AM2 motherboards.  However, the original K10 desktop and server processors will debut on the 65nm architecture -- a process AMD only started mastering in December 2006 with the launch of the Brisbane desktop CPU family.

In the second half of 2008, AMD will begin to migrate its K10 architecture to the 45nm node.  AMD explicitly mentions that its 45nm process technology utilizes silicon-on-insulator (SOI).  Intel's 45nm process node, slated for introduction later this year, uses conventional CMOS process technology. 

The halo AMD 45nm chip, Deneb FX, shares the same functionality as its 65nm counterpart, Agena.  Both families incorporate native quad-core designs and shared-L3 cache support.  Deneb FX goes one step further, adding support for DDR3 on the integrated memory controller.

However, the bulk of AMD's 45nm quad-core offerings will come with the Deneb (non-FX) family.  AMD suggests Deneb will be the first processor on the new AM3 socket.  Previous AMD documentation indicated that AM2 and AM3 would be forward/backward compatible -- yet AMD engineers claim the AM3 alluded to in 2006 is not the same AM3 referenced in the 2008 launch schedule. 

"At the time AM3 was the likely candidate to become AM2+," claimed one field application engineer familiar with AMD's socket migration. "[AMD] wanted to keep the socket name associated with DDR2 memory and backwards compatibility, but AM3 emphasizes DDR3 support."

After Deneb, and closer to 2009, AMD's guidance states that 45nm Propus and Regor will replace the 65nm Kuma and Rana mid-range productsPropus is very similar to Deneb: 45nm, shared L3 cache, AM3 package.  However, Propus will only feature two cores.  Regor is identical to Propus, but will not include shared-L3 cache support.

AMD's low-end single core Athlon 64 and Sempron appear consolidated with the introduction of the Sargas family.  Sargas is an optical shrink of the 65nm Spica core, with the addition of DDR3 support and AM3 packaging.  AMD's ultra-low end Sparta-family, slated for introduction this year to replace the Manila-family Semprons, has no successor.

AMD product managers are keeping details of their 45nm technology close.  However, this past January AMD and IBM jointly announced plans for high-k, metal gate transistors on future 45nm and 32nm processors. 

This past February, AMD senior vice president of technology development Douglas Grose claimed the company is still anticipating whether or not it will use high-k metal gate technology in later 45nm revisions or if the company will wait until 32nm.

Intel also announced its intention to debut high-k, metal gate technology on its 45nm node, but the company went one step further to confirm this new transistor technique will appear on the Penryn processor.  Intel guidance suggests Penryn will see its first retail availability late this year -- at least a year before Deneb.

Marty Seyer, AMD senior vice president, recently disclosed AMD's 45nm server offering slated for release in 2008.  Seyer stated that Shanghai, the 45nm successor to Barcelona, would feature additional cache and other performance enhancements. 

Seyer or Grose would not comment on what these performance enhancements, though features from AMD's server products typically appear on the desktop components as well.

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RE: AM2+ and AM3
By Targon on 5/2/2007 8:38:09 AM , Rating: 2
AM2+ like the current AM2 based processors supports DDR2. The differences in sockets are based on HyperTransport 3 and allowing each core to run at a different power state. Socket AM2+ will support both AM2 and AM2+ processors, so I expect a quick transition to socket AM2+ by motherboard manufacturers since there is no downside.

When it comes to AM3, I suspect that the reason for the change is like the change from socket 939 to AM2, a different socket for a different type of memory supported by the processor. While I suspect that AMD COULD support both types of memory on the same processor, there would be a LOT of complaints if people with an AM2+ processor tried to use their chip in an AM3 motherboard and then found that it wouldn't work. That being the case, AMD would NEED to support DDR3 memory on AM2+ based processors just to avoid those sorts of complaints.

It might be nice if motherboard manufacturers would put in multiple banks of memory, some at DDR2 and some at DDR3, which might allow for this, but there hasn't been a motherboard with support for multiple memory types since the transition from 30 pin memory modules to 72 pin.

RE: AM2+ and AM3
By Rookierookie on 5/2/2007 9:17:43 AM , Rating: 2
but there hasn't been a motherboard with support for multiple memory types since the transition from 30 pin memory modules to 72 pin.

I was under the impression that many i915 boards supported both DDR and DDR2, and that many of the upcoming P35 boards will support both DDR2 and DDR3 as well.

It's a different story with AMD's integrated memory controller of course, but the problem doesn't really rest with the motherboard manufacturer.

RE: AM2+ and AM3
By MartinT on 5/2/2007 9:26:44 AM , Rating: 2
I was under the impression that many i915 boards supported both DDR and DDR2, and that many of the upcoming P35 boards will support both DDR2 and DDR3 as well.

Exactly. Another example, some people may remember it still, is the (in)famous ECS K7S5A board, supporting both SDR and DDR SDRAM back in the K7 era.

RE: AM2+ and AM3
By bubbacub616 on 5/2/2007 12:39:10 PM , Rating: 2
i loved that board - till it died!

RE: AM2+ and AM3
By darkpaw on 5/2/2007 9:20:09 AM , Rating: 2
Um, not true on the motherboard comment. There were plenty of boards that supported both SDR and DDR during that transition. AMD's use of the internal memory controller prevented that strategy with the conversion to DDR2, but there are plenty of Intel boards that support both DDR and DDR2 (usually 1 bank of each in an either/or configuration).

RE: AM2+ and AM3
By Hawkido on 5/2/2007 4:52:28 PM , Rating: 1
oops, Not true!

The use of the internal memory controller on the AMD CPU is optional. If there is a memory controller on the MB it can override the IMC on the chip. There were some NVidia MBs that did so. I think it lost out in popularity because of the increased cost of the IMC in the CPU plus the increased cost of a MC on the MB. As to there being no boards that supported it. I'll take your word on it. But the IMC wasn't preventing it, just making it cost prohibitive. The newer AMD chip may not give you the option anymore, but one of the selling points of the IMC as listed by AMD was that its use was Optional provided your MB had a MC on it.

RE: AM2+ and AM3
By darkpaw on 5/2/2007 5:02:28 PM , Rating: 2
That I did not know, thanks. Doesn't seem to matter if no one supports the option, but it is an interesting piece of information.

RE: AM2+ and AM3
By coldpower27 on 5/2/2007 10:24:57 PM , Rating: 3
I think that would kinda defeat the purpose of having the IMC on AMD's processors.

Could you provide a link of when this occurred as I have no recollection in the entire history of K8 where they used off board MC.

RE: AM2+ and AM3
By perrywilson78 on 5/2/2007 9:27:07 AM , Rating: 2
there hasn't been a motherboard with support for multiple memory types since the transition from 30 pin memory modules to 72 pin.

My wifes computer has VIA KT266 chipset and supports PC133 or DDR266 its only 4 years old. With every switch to new memory types has had a motherboard that supported the old and new.

RE: AM2+ and AM3
By Visual on 5/3/2007 4:53:40 AM , Rating: 1
only four years old? yeah right... it was more than 6 years ago.
oh you mean the computer not the chipset... well it was already ancient when you bought it then.

RE: AM2+ and AM3
By raven3x7 on 5/2/2007 5:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
According to preliminary info from AMD, AM3 processors will be compatible with AM2/AM2+ and that the memory controller on those chips will support both ddr2 and ddr3. Which one will be utilized will depend on the motherboard used.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini
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