After sending mixed signals about whether AMD will enter the so-called netbook market, Randy Allen, senior vice president for AMD’s Computing Solutions Group, told analysts Nov. 13 that the company would enter the market in 2009 with a platform called “Yukon” that will combine a processor, graphics and chip set.
While AMD has been focusing on the launch of its 45-nanometer Opteron processor, rumors started to gather that the company would enter the low-cost notebook market. Allen confirmed those rumors when he spoke during AMD’s annual meeting with Wall Street analysts at the company’s Sunnyvale, Calif., campus Nov. 13.
During his talk, Allen said AMD wanted to focus on offering a better PC experience with these ultraportable and low-cost notebooks. Specifically, Allen said AMD wanted to offer better performance for business users who have started taking these laptops on the road and on airplanes.
“What I hear from customers is that they really like the form factor but they don’t like the PC experience, and so as part of our road map we have developed a platform that combines processor, graphics and chip set that will squarely target that market,” Allen said.
While AMD will target small form-factor notebooks that have displays as compact as 10 inches, Allen said the company does not want to compete against Intel when it comes to MIDs (mobile Internet devices) that use a different version of the Atom processor.
Right now, Intel dominates this low-cost and ultraportable market with its Atom processor and platform. In addition, some of the world’s largest PC vendors-Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Acer-have jumped into the market due to the success of Asustek Computer’s Eee PC.
The shift toward low-cost and very portable notebooks helped propel the market in the third quarter of 2008 despite the economic downturn, according to IDC, a shift that appears to have been too tempting for AMD to resist.
While Allen did not delve into specifics, his presentation offered some guidance as to when and where AMD plans to bring in some new platforms and processors for ultraportable and low-cost notebooks as well as new products for mainstream notebooks and desktops.
AMD Looks at 2009, Beyond
In the first half of 2009, AMD will bring out the “Yukon” platform for ultraportable and low-cost netbooks. This platform will have a total TDP-a term that refers to how much heat a chip or platform has to dissipate-of 25 watts. In addition, AMD will introduce two new dual-core processors for both netbooks and mainstream laptops. The code names for these processors are Caspian and Conesus.
Later in 2009, AMD will bring out a mainstream laptop platform called “Tigris,” which will include a 45-nm processor, and “Kodiak,” which will bring 45-nm AMD processors into the desktop space. In 2010, AMD will introduce a four-core, 45-nm processor for mainstream notebooks called “Champlain” and a new platform called “Danube.”
In late 2010 or early 2011, AMD will switch its manufacturing from 45 nm to 32 nm. The processors built on 32 nm will be manufactured by The Foundry Company, the company AMD created by spinning off its manufacturing division.
Finally, in 2011, AMD will bring out three new processors that are based on new microarchitecture. One chip is called “Orochi,” based on a new processing core called “Bulldozer.” The second chip is called “Ontario,” based on a processing core architecture called “Bobcat.”
While Orochi is geared toward high-end desktops, Ontario is designed for ultraportable laptops and netbooks. The platform that will support Ontario is called “Brazos.”
In addition to those chips, AMD will also introduce the first of what the company calls an APU, or accelerated processing unit, called “Liano.” This processor is the first time AMD will introduce a processor that combines graphics and a CPU on the same piece of silicon. The platform that will support Liano is code-named Sabine, and will support Microsoft DirectX 11 graphics and DDR3 (double data rate 3) memory.