By Mark Hachman  |  Posted 2004-11-12 Print this article Print

-Processing Cost"> AMD is currently producing flash chips using 110-nm lines—a more advanced process than Intel—which has allowed its business to make money even as unit demand has dropped. AMD also will announce a "great new detail" about its shift to next-generation 90-nm technology in the coming weeks, Cambou said. By 2007, AMD will shift its manufacturing again, down to 45 nanometers. AMD also claims a lower wafer-processing cost than the NAND providers, according to Jim Handy, director of nonvolatile memory research at Phoenix-based Semico Research Corp.
What does all of this mean for the flash market? Probably a price war, Handy said, at least by Samsung. Toshiba has been pushing its MLC (multilevel cell) technology, which packs more than one bit of storage into a cell. AMDs "MirrorBit" flash memories use a similar technology, and Intel also has developed MLC capabilities.
"There havent been many [memory] controllers available for Toshibas MLC technology, which has hurt them," Handy said. "Thats going to change, and then its going to be all about multilevel cell." Macromedia is taking flash mobile. Click here to read more. ORNAND will offer a performance advantage, Cambou claimed. ORNAND initially will offer 8-Mbyte data rates, the same data rate achieved by Samsungs single-level-cell flash memory. When the ORNAND memory is combined with AMDs MirrorBit multilevel-cell technology, however, the effective data rate will increase to about 25 Mbytes/sec, significantly faster than any NAND-based flash cards. AMD also will begin attacking the removable flash memory market directly, Cambou said, although he did not disclose further details. AMD eyes commercial PC market in 2005 AMDs revelations in the microprocessor space were far less significant. AMDs roadmap to multicore processors is well-known, and the company demonstrated the technology and its potential performance implications at the Fall Processor Forum in San Jose, Calif., in October. AMD executives offered no new details. One open question concerns the issue of pricing; for example, whether AMD will charge double for placing two cores on a single chip. Dirk Meyer, head of AMDs Computation Products Group, said the company had yet to decide on prices for the new chips, which will likely run at slower clock speeds than the single-core parts. The subject is the topic of a focus group, he said. The answer will affect AMDs standing in the commercial space, which is now the focus of the company. AMD has flipped its corporate emphasis to focus on commercial customers more than the consumer market, although "were not writing that market off," Meyer said. Internally, the company has changed a tagline on its AMD64 logo program from "Whos Next?" to "Whos Left?"—a combination of circumstances that led some to believe that AMD may be refocusing its efforts on Dell Inc., the largest commercial PC vendor in the world. A report that implied Dell chief executive Kevin Rollins was considering carrying an Opteron server line was read with great interest at AMD, Meyer said in a brief interview. "I was very pleased to read it. … Its been interesting to watch the evolution of his position [on using AMD chips] in the past couple of weeks," Meyer said. AMD recently signed Chartered Semiconductor as an additional chip foundry, with capacity coming on line in 2006 to supply customers with AMD64 processors. A second report, saying that Microsoft had passed over the Intel Itanium 2 with its latest clustering software, was shrugged off both by analysts and by Meyer. Only 13 entries on the Top500 supercomputer list are Itanium-based clusters; the Itanium is part of Intels "scale-up" program for monolithic computers. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.


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