AMD, Via Unveil New Embedded x86 Chip Offerings

At the Embedded World show, AMD rolled out its newest G-Series offerings, while Via demonstrated its upcoming Eden X2 dual-core processors.

Chip makers Advanced Micro Devices and Via Technologies are looking to drive their x86-based processors deeper into the embedded market.

At the Embedded World 2011 shows in Nuremberg, Germany, both vendors unveiled their latest offerings designed to increase performance and reliability while driving down costs. AMD announced its latest G-Series embedded APUs (accelerated processing units), which are based on the company's "Bobcat" core.

For its part, Via demonstrated its Eden X2 chip, which company officials said is the lowest-power dual-core processor in the embedded space.

AMD rolled out the first of its G-Series embedded APUs in January, with officials saying at the time that the new offerings will give the company a greater opportunity to expand its presence in the highly competitive space. AMD, which entered the embedded market in 2003 with its Geode chip line, not only is competing with Intel and Via, but also with ARM Holdings and MIPS. AMD officials in January estimated that x86 processors hold about a third of what they said is a $10 billion market.

Growth in such sectors as thin clients, digital signage, point-of-sale and kiosks, automobiles, medical imaging, telecommunications and networking is driving up the demand for embedded technologies, they said.

With the three new chips unveiled March 1 during the Embedded World show, AMD officials are targeting "headless" systems, which do not use a screen, monitor or input device. In addition, they don't need a graphics solution. The G-Series is part of AMD's Fusion initiative, which puts the CPU and discrete-level graphics on the same piece of silicon. However, there is a core market in the embedded space that may not need the graphics capabilities, but still could take advantage of a Bobcat-based CPU, according to Buddy Broeker, director of embedded solutions at AMD.

"It's critical that we support our embedded customers not only with a wide selection of the best-possible x86 platform solutions, but with the entire ecosystem they need to design and develop highly differentiated embedded systems," Broeker said in a statement, noting other offerings rolled out at Embedded World beyond the chips, including an RDK (reference design kit) for storage systems and new sales and marketing offerings.

Broeker touted the new offerings in a March 1 blog post.

The new G-Series chips released at the show are available with 5W and 18W power bands, 64-bit capability and multi-core options, according to AMD.

Via's new Eden X2 chips leverage the product line's fanless design principles and a power-efficient dual-core design and a longevity guarantee of seven years, according to company officials.

The chips, built on Via's 4-nanometer manufacturing process, include two 64-bit superscaler Eden cores, the Via VT virtualization solution that enables legacy software to be used in virtualized environments with no impact to performance, and the company's AES Security Engine for dynamic hardware-based encryption.

"Embedded developers will relish the opportunity to integrate a native 64-bit, dual-core processor in passively cooled, ultra-stable systems," Daniel Wu, vice president of Via's Embedded Platform Division, said in a statement.

Via customers are sampling the Eden X2 processors now, and systems and boards with the processors will be available in the second quarter, the company said.