AMD Lays Out Plans For Netbooks, 32nm Chips - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers

AMD Lays Out Plans For Netbooks, 32nm Chips

AMD's Yukon will be the company's first platform to compete with Intel's successful low-power Atom processor for placement in sub-$500 systems with displays of 10 inches or less.

Advanced Micro Devices on Thursday laid out the road map for processors that would cover every PC market segment, including the new, fast-growing ultraportable netbooks.

AMD introduced the product plans at its Financial Analyst Day, held at the company's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters. To kick off the annual event, AMD released its first chips built using an advanced 45-nanometer fabrication process. The Opteron server processors, code-named Shanghai, marked AMD's rise to manufacturing parity with Intel, which has been shipping 45-nm products for nearly a year. The advancement produces higher-performing chips that use less power.

In giving analysts a peek at products to come, AMD executives introduced Yukon, the code name for the company's first platform to compete with Intel's successful low-power Atom processor. Atom is gaining traction in the emerging market for netbooks, sub-$500 systems with displays of 10 inches or less. The small notebooks, which are primarily used for e-mail and accessing the Web, are growing in popularity and could reach shipments of 50 million units worldwide by 2012, according to Gartner.

AMD plans to deliver Yukon in the first quarter of next year. The platform is expected to include a "slim" processor code-named Bobcat and a chipset with a total power consumption of less than 25 watts.

In 2011, AMD expects to introduce Brazos, the code name for a low-cost, low-power platform for mobile PCs that will include a dual-core system on a chip implementation of Bobcat, code-named Ontario. The Brazos platform will use DDR3 memory.

Also in 2011, AMD plans to introduce a notebook and desktop platform code-named Sabine. The platform will be built around an accelerated processing unit code-named Llano. An APU is AMD's terminology for a chip that combines a CPU and graphics processing unit on the same piece of silicon. Sabine, which AMD describes as a system on a chip, is expected to bring significant battery-life improvements to notebooks.

For the mainstream notebook market, AMD plans to release in the second half of next year a new platform code-named Tigris, which is set to include 45-nm dual- and single-core mobile processors, code-named Caspian, and the upcoming RS880M and SB710 chipsets. Planned features include enhanced high-definition video playback, better battery life, and faster performance. AMD's successor to Tigris is code-named Danube, which is set for release in 2010. Danube is expected to feature Champlain, the code name for AMD's first quad-core mobile processor.

Analysts have said that AMD, which is struggling to reach profitability after a string of quarterly losses, needs better products for notebooks ranging from desktop replacements to mainstream and mini-notebooks. Intel dominates the market, which is the fastest-growing PC category.

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