AMD Adds New Opteron, Athlon Processors to Embedded Portfolio

Updated: After remaining quiet about its embedded program for the last year, AMD has returned with its second announcement in a month as it looks to gain traction with several dual-core offerings for this high-e

For the second time in less than a month, Advanced Micro Devices is preparing to expand its portfolio of high-end embedded chips.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., chip maker will use the Embedded World Exhibition and Conference in Nuremburg, Germany, to launch several new offerings within its embedded line, including dual-core Opteron and Athlon processors, new Geode processors for the lower end of the embedded market place, as well as three additional reference design kits.

All of these new products are expected to be released Feb. 12, the company said. AMD is competition with both Intel and IBM, which make processors specifically geared toward the embedded market as well.

It was in March 2005 that AMD announced that it would add its more mainstream, dual-core Opteron processor to its embedded lineup, which at the time included both Geode and Alchemy chips that were marketed to the lower-end of the embedded space.

The inclusion of the dual-core Opteron processor into the embedded line allowed AMD, the worlds second largest chip maker, to enter into the higher end of the market that included storage, blade and telecommunication servers, digital imaging and media, communications and networking, and the military.

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After the Opteron announcement, AMD remained quiet about its future embedded plans until Jan. 24, when officials announced that they would offer companies the Sempron 3500+ processor and the Turion 64 X2 dual-core TL-52 processor as part of its embedded portfolio.

With its announcement Feb. 12, AMD will release new lower-power, higher performing Opterons. These chips, which range in clock speed form 1.4GHz to 2.6GHz, will have DDR2 (double-data rate) memory and work with one-, two-, and four-socket servers. These chips have also been manufactured with thermal envelopes that range from 95 watts to as low as 30 watts.

In addition, the company will add two Athlon processors, a single-core 3000+ processor and a dual-core 3400+ processor. Each chips runs at 1.8GHz and both offer a 35-watt thermal envelope.

With these configurations—low-power thermal envelopes, sockets, memory—plus additions like AMDs Direct Connect Architecture, make both the Opteron and Athlon processors well suited for the telecommunications space, storage and point-of-sale developers, said Greg White, vice president of AMDs Embedded Product Division.

The Opterons and the two Athlon chips will be offered to companies with AMDs five-year processor longevity standard, which helps with both pricing and processor stability.

AMD will also roll out a new Geode processor, the LX900. This low-power chip will run at only 1.5 watts, according to the company. (By comparison, the typical notebook processor will run anywhere from seven to 30 watts.)

The company hopes to market this low-power chip to thin-client PC makers, as well as companies that make devices such as single board computers, PDAs, mobile Internet devices and interactive set-top boxes.

Finally, AMD will offer three new reference design kits for companies that develop embedded products. The first kit is for storage and will offer design requirements to help these companies design systems that can store data and also offer redundancy, backup and security features.

The third and final kit will use dual-core Opteron 200 series processors for blades used in the telecommunications industry. These blades can be built to Network Equipment Building System standards, which is an important standard for servers in more hostile environments compared to those found in enterprise data centers.

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The second kit is geared toward small form factor devices, such as thin clients, point-of-sale devices and single board computers.

Matt Stevenson, the chief architect of WIN Enterprises, a North Andover, Mass., company that specializes in creating embedded products, has been using these dual-core Opteron processors to create a single board computer called the MB-06058.

This type of computer, according to WIN, has uses within verticals such as the military, medial imaging and aerospace.

"The market is extremely interested in dual- and multi-core solutions like the MB-06058 because of the high-performance, small device size, with low heat production," Stevenson wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK.

"These are increasing concerns across information technology. We are realizing success with these solutions; however, the heart of the market is still in the next tier down, or high-performance single-processor devices," he added.

Stevenson also said that AMD has been able to address the companys need for embedded processors that work with x86 architecture, which his company specializes in.

"We prefer x86 because of the scalability it enables and the tremendous application library thats available," Stevenson wrote.

Editors Note: This story was updated to add more information about AMDs reference design kits.

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