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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: Vote of no confidence
By defter on 5/2/2007 10:08:06 AM , Rating: 3
In my opinion most important question is: when AMD's 45nm parts can reach higher clockspeed compared to their fastest 65nm parts?

For example, AMD's 65nm parts have been available since December and they still are running below the clockspeed of fastest 90nm parts (3GHz)...

RE: Vote of no confidence
By Master Kenobi on 5/2/2007 11:19:16 AM , Rating: 2
A valid point. It is unlikely AMD will make a 45nm launch in 2008. 1H'09 is much more realistic.

Also to the clockspeed comment, which is another valid point, clock speeds come with mastry of the process node and scaling the chips to take advantage of it. This takes time, and AMD's 65nm process is still in its infancy. Intel's 65nm process is an adult, it has been around in mass production for over a year now. Given the timetables and pending Intel can stick to their roadmap (So far they have beaten it) then they should be gearing up for the 32nm node around the same time AMD is moving 45nm chips in volume.

RE: Vote of no confidence
By ybee on 5/2/2007 12:22:14 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe never. Incresing process variations at smaller feature sizes make it more and more difficult to get higher clocks.

RE: Vote of no confidence
By melgross on 5/3/2007 6:12:43 PM , Rating: 2
That's not true. It was leakage and dissipation issues that led to that.

Intel's latest chips will be running at at least 3.2 GHz at the highest speeds upon release. They already showed Penyrn running at 3.33 GHz. It's just a matter of time before speeds rise above the highest Pentium speeds. Perhaps late in 2008 we will see that.

RE: Vote of no confidence
By coldpower27 on 5/2/2007 10:22:53 PM , Rating: 1
We will have to see given AMD's past track record so far, at least half way through the process node, so I doubt you will be seeing higher speeds from AMD's 45nm process till Early 2009.

It isn't a terrible thing to be using the newer process as cost savings measure though for the time being.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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