AMD Boosts the Desktop
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is looking to boost the computing power of desktop and notebook PCs with a new chip that mirrors the companys efforts with its Opteron chip for servers.
The company this week will unveil the Athlon 64 processor, a chip that, like the Opteron, can run applications with both 32-bit and 64-bit addressing. This dual capability makes it easier for organizations to migrate to the more complex 64-bit applications, according to officials at the Sunnyvale, Calif., company.
Initial versions of the Athlon 64, code-named Clawhammer, will feature 1MB of Level 2 cache. The Athlon 64 will include AMDs HyperTransport technology, designed to speed data transfer inside PCs. It will also have a fully integrated double-data-rate memory controller. AMD would not disclose the Athlon 64s frequency.
The Athlon 64 was built on AMDs 130-nanometer manufacturing process. A version code-named San Diego and due for release in the first half of next year will be built on a 90-nanometer process, as will the next version of the Mobile Athlon 64, code-named Odessa.
The next version of the Opteron, also built via the 90-nanometer process, is code-named Athens and is scheduled for release in the first half of next year as well.
Officials at Intel Corp. have said that demand for 64-bit computing on the desktop is several years away. AMD officials maintain that high-end users such as game players want 64-bit technology, which will let them run their games faster.
AMD President and CEO Hector Ruiz sees the emerging demand for 64-bit technology in servers and on the desktop as the beginning of an industrywide revolution. "I find it also kind of fascinating, this is really an industry change, its not just a new product for another two quarters," Ruiz said. "I dont know how long 64-bit is going to be around, but youre talking about a decade-plus of innovation."
Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., expects to have 64-bit chips for desktops in 2006 or 2007. To attract those gamers who might be early converts to the Athlon 64, Intel at its Intel Developer Forum event here last week introduced a 32-bit chip aimed at gamers.