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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: Learn to crawl before you can walk
By Justin Case on 5/2/2007 2:39:14 PM , Rating: 5
Although a "fan base" is important for public perception (well, for the "geek" public, anyway), it's not really where most of the money is. The money is in big OEM deals, like the ones AMD managed to get with Sun, Lenovo, Dell, IBM, HP, etc.. As long as those keep coming in, AMD couldn't care less about having "fans". Fans don't buy a million CPUs six months in advance, which is what a stable business needs.

AMD knew what Intel was up to, just like Intel knew what AMD was up to with the K8 (they didn't react sooner due to internal politics - their engineers tried to warn management). The fact is, except for the very-high-end, AMD is more or less matched with Intel right now (after the latest price cuts).

Remember that during the K8 vs. Netburst days, AMD was charging insane prices for their CPUs. Intel's recovery has merely "corrected" that.

AMD's OEM deals didn't all turn out as well as they hoped, but still, you can find a lot more AMD-based systems from Dell, HP, etc., than you could 3 or 4 years ago, and that's a good sign for competition. Also, AMD took a major blow acquiring ATI, but in the long-term that was really their only option. Intel is probably going to spend more on GPU R&D than AMD paid for ATI.

Some people have blogs dedicated to posting negative propaganda about AMD (usually with very sensationalistic titles), but news of its death are greatly exaggerated.


By Psychless on 5/2/2007 5:02:10 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, fans are only really useful for potato chip companies. Taste unfortunately has nothing to do with AMD or Intel's chips and they generally care more about Dell and HP then people who build their own computers.


RE: Learn to crawl before you can walk
By PrezWeezy on 5/3/2007 3:50:17 PM , Rating: 2
You forget that AMD started as a grassroots movement (if you could use that term considering their "real" start as a secondary supply of Intel chips to IBM) because they had cheap parts and performed well. They survived on the gaming market with 2%, then 6%, then a growing percentage of the total sales until they had a product that gave equal performance for a much cheaper price. THEN they started gaining market share at an incredible rate. Their "fan base" kept them alive. Not to mention almost the entire GPU market for discrete cards is fan based.

I honestly dont remember AMD charging a ton for their products either. I remember that was the huge reason to go AMD, because Intel chips were $400 for a decent proc. AMD had almost 0 OEM support for a long time. They only recently started getting anything other than special orders from Dell and HP and the like (even though it did backfire on them).

Intel would never have developed a GPU if it wasn't for AMD buying ATI. That and nVIDIA's obvious unwillingness to join Intel in creating a graphics solution.

Overall I agree that an actual "fan" might not be a huge percentage, but I believe that over 45% (I think it was actualy higher but I don't remember exactly) comes from channel partners such as myself. Selling and recomending systems to customers. Anyone who says that OEM's are their only source of sales hasn't done the research to know that the channel from small builders is a huge stream for them.

I'm no naysayer of AMD, I happen to have a strong perfernce to Intel as anyone who has read my comments on this site can tell you, but I would like to see AMD continue on to keep kicking Intel in the pants.


RE: Learn to crawl before you can walk
By derdon on 5/4/2007 2:38:57 AM , Rating: 2
"Intel would never have developed a GPU if it wasn't for AMD buying ATI. That and nVIDIA's obvious unwillingness to join Intel in creating a graphics solution."

You seem to be a bit young. Intel had graphics card when nVidia was fighting with 3dfx over the performance crown. That was when ATI shipped unimpressive "Rage" GPUs (back then nobody would have called it a GPU though) and nobody expected anything off them really.
Intel has always been a player in the GPU field. They're not big among the hardcore graphics crowd, but the majority of the PCs is equipped with an Intel graphics chip.


By PrezWeezy on 5/4/2007 6:32:33 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry I misspoke. What I meant was their recent endeavors into what we are assuming will be a discrete graphics solution. I wasn't talking about built in video. We know they have that and it's quite good for its playing field, but I was referring to the announcement they made last month, I believe, when they were talking about a "high FP chip."


By Justin Case on 5/6/2007 11:26:33 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure that if AMD wanted to keep that great 6% market share, they'd give their "fans" priority over Dell, IBM and HP.

If they wanted to grow beyond that, thay had to change the way they did business. Being cheaper and having some geek "fans" will only take you so far. What Ruiz realised was that AMD's sales weren't limited by price; going cheaper wouldn't make them sell more. What AMD needed was a bigger, preferably more stable market. And that meant bigger deals with OEMs. And since AMD is still limited by manufacturing ability, selling more to OEMs meant delaying things a bit for the channel.

In the long run, that was probably the right choice. Maybe it could have been executed better, but there's no way a manufacturing company can grow more than 30% in a year without some hiccups.

P.S. - Actually AMD was a bit more than a "second supplier". They helped Intel with the (physical) CPU design and manufacturing processes of early x86 CPUs. They didn't really start working on CPU architecture internally until the K5, though.


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