Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Thursday added a slew of new processor code names to its road map, timed to coincide with a meeting with Wall Street analysts. AMD executives also confirmed that its next-generation K9 processor will ship late in 2005.
At its biannual analyst meeting at its Sunnyvale, Calif. headquarters, AMD officials outlined the progress the company made in its plan to return to profitability by the fourth calendar quarter, traditionally the industrys strongest.
During the session, AMD offered analysts a glimpse at its current product roadmap, extending its processor lines through 2005.
In May, AMD indicated that it planned only three new processors for 2004: “Athens,” a 64-bit Opteron chip designed for servers and workstations; “San Diego,” a version designed for the desktop; and “Odessa,” a version for laptops.
Now, AMD has added an additional six processors for 2004. The company has also extended its public roadmap out through the end of 2005, disclosing an additional six new chips slated for that year alone.
AMDs offerings for the first half of 2004 will include the introductions of two microprocessors. According to the roadmap, AMD has delayed the launch of the mobile version of the Athlon 64, and now expects to ship a 130nm mobile version of the Athlon 64 in the first half of 2004, and not late this year as originally planned. Odessa will ship in the second half of 2004, using a 90nm process, the roadmap indicates.
AMDs flagship Athlon 64 will receive an update early in the first quarter of 2004, dubbed Newcastle. Outwardly, the chip will use the same 130nm production line and processes of the current Athlon 64. According to AMD officials, however, the die will be small, approximately 150 sq. mm.
Newcastle will be a new processor optimized for the desktop platform, an AMD spokeswoman said. She declined to comment further.
Newcastle will include a dual-channel DDR-400 memory controller, according to Kevin Krewell, an analyst for In-Stat/MDR. Newcastle will also contain a smaller amount of on-chip cache, he said, which usually leads to lower performance. On the other hand, the chips smaller die size will make it cheaper to manufacture.
When AMD introduced its first 64-bit Athlon 64 and AthlonFX processors in September, AMD executives positioned the chips as substantially-faster versions of the existing 32-bit Athlon XP, which currently provide the bulk of the companys sales. Moving forward, however, the company has placed the majority of its development resources in the hands of the team working on server microprocessors.
“In the server space AMD64 has a clear value in servers,” said Dirk Meyer, senior vice president of AMDs Computation Products Group. “We cant be as important to our customers as we want to be without a strong competitive server offering.”
Meanwhile, the roadmap also indicates that AMD has delayed a shift to manufacturing its chips with 90nm processes that use silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology. The move will wait until the second half of 2004.
This transition will be important to the company, as the finer process technologies usually equate to cheaper, faster chips. Intel, for example, has already announced its transition to 90nm process will begin to take place in November and December, which represents Intels own delay of a few months.
According to Krewell, if AMD can meet its own timetable and break the 90nm tape only six months behind Intel, that shows the company is making progress. “It looked a lot worse earlier,” he said.
AMD has a development partnership with IBM to develop 65nm products, although production of parts based on that technology wont begin until at least the end of 2005, and most likely 2006, Krewell added.
More Processors on AMDs
In the server and workstation space, AMD will release “Athens,” a previously-disclosed 90nm processor for servers with 1 to 8 processors servers. It will fall within its 800 series of products. “Troy” and “Venus” will be updates to the 200 and 100 series, respectively. All three chips will be available in “full” and “low-power” versions, the roadmap document indicated.
Desktop customers can expect three new chips in the second half of 2004: “San Diego,” an update to the AthlonFX line, “Winchester,” the successor to Newcastle, and “Paris,” a new 32-bit Athlon XP.
AMDs Duron value brand will continue to hang around “as the market requires,” the roadmap said.
In the mobile space, “Odessa” will provide improvements to the mobile Athlon 64, while “Dublin” will be designed as an upgrade to the 32-bit Athlon XP-M. Save for “Paris” and “Dublin,” the 32-bit processors, all of AMDs new chips will be manufactured on the latest 90nm line widths.
“Youre not going to see big-bang announcements in 2004,” Meyer said. “Youre going to see us reap the fruits of the harvests we sowed years ago.”
Only one chip is currently planned for the first half of 2005: “Oakville,” a 90nm refresh of Odessa, likely featuring a similar die shrink to the Athlon64-Newcastle transition.
In the second half of 2005, AMD will revise its processors again, while continuing to use the 90nm process. The roadmap does not indicate whether or not the chips will be a new generation of microprocessors, or simply revisions to the existing architecture.
According to the roadmap, “Egypt” will replace Palermo; “Italy” will replace Troy, and “Denmark” will replace Venus as AMDs enterprise processors.
According to the document, AMD does not plan a refresh of the desktop Athlon 64 “Winchester” part. Instead, that chip will continue through 2005, the roadmap indicates, while the “Toledo” and “Palermo” chips will fill the roles played by the AthlonFX and Athlon XP today.
Likewise, AMDs 2005 mobile processor roadmap calls for the “Oakville” to live on. “Trinidad”, a 90nm SOI part designed to replace the 32-bit “Dublin” chip, will be introduced on a 90nm SOI process, the roadmap says.
Although the chip was not disclosed on the roadmap, the next-generation K9 will ship very late in 2005, Meyer said. Analyst Krewell added there is a strong possibility that the die will contain more than one processing core.
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