IDF Notebook: Show Us Your Cards, AMD

Notebook: AMD, where are you? Plus some of the smaller stories from IDF, including small-form-factor external SATA RAID towers, a mesh networking update, new PCI Express standards and cards, and more.

Well, that was refreshing.

The most convincing indication that a company has its act together is the information its willing to put out to the press. A company with nothing to hide typically feels confident that its competition will be unable to catch up, no matter what information theyre provided with. Thats the impression Intel gave at its Developer Forum this week, where documents normally stamped with "Intel Confidential" were here put out for the world to see.

The real loser? Advanced Micro Devices Inc., which typically holes up in the Palace Hotel as the "loyal opposition."

If Craig Barrett, Paul Otellini, or some other Intel executive leaves the company exposed, AMD executives are usually on hand to poke holes in the hype. During 2004, Intel had a lot of holes.

Not this year. AMD executives trotted out a public roadmap from Nov. 2004 as their counterpunch to Intel Corp.s dual-core disclosures.

We all know AMD plans dual-core chips, at least in the server and desktop space. Weve heard about "Windsor" and "Orleans," dual-core chips that add DDR-2 (double data rate 2) support.

Could it be that analyst Kevin Krewell is right, and that AMDs dual-core plans will be little more than a paper launch? Skywriting "AMD Turion 64" above IDF is cute, but thats a wee bit of sizzle next to a platter of steak. Dirk Meyer, where are you?

Speaking of steak, its time for some IDF leftovers…


Readers building their own Entertainment PCs will have a new component to consider in the coming months: the Media Expansion card.

Early versions of the Entertainment PC used what was called an "Add2+" card, a PCI Express add-on card that provided TV-out capabilities for playing back content, such as that stored on DVDs. The new Media Expansion cards will combine TV-in and TV-out capabilities on a single card, providing the ability to record two standard-definition video streams, store them and then later play them back on a television screen.

The cards, early versions of which look significantly larger than the Add2+ cards, will contain chips from Vixs, Philips and Silicon Image, according to David Clemmons, a product marketing manager from Intel. Media Expansion cards are designed with the Intel 945G chip set in mind, and will be available when the motherboards designed around the chip set begin shipping in the second quarter, Clemmons said.


More and more manufacturers seem to have become enamored with the small external SATA RAID towers housing a number of 2.5-inch drives. Tucked in a corner inside the Fujitsu booth was the SteelVine array of five 2.5-inch drives (from Fujitsu, of course) tucked in an array the size of a half-height CD-ROM spindle.

/zimages/3/28571.gifTo read more about Fujitsus plans to expand its blade server line running Linux, click here.

Next door, Lanner Electronics Inc. showed off a similar display, although the drive looked more like a small server and could hold five 3.5-inch drives. Company executives told us that the mini-enclosure costs $800 flat, without the drives, apparently a result of the engineering put into designing the boards and the chassis. After suffering through a couple of faulty external Seagate drives, I had visions of a redundant storage system that wouldnt lock up while playing MP3s. After hearing the price tag, though, Ill wait. Theyll come down in price, soon enough.

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