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Friday, May 18, 2007
AMD Details Plans For Mobile PC Chip Platform

AMD detailed on Thursday plans for its first-ever chip platform designed specifically for notebook personal computers, in a bid to regain ground lost to rival Intel.

The platform is aimed at improving battery life and enhancing graphics and video processing performance, AMD said.

Code-named Puma, notebooks with the platform are expected on the market by the middle of 2008, AMD said. The platform also takes advantage of AMD'acquisition of graphics chipmaker ATI, which closed in October 2006.

AMD's market share in the first quarter of this year slipped more than 5 percentage points to less than 20 percent for the first time since 2005 as Intel revamped its own product line and slashed prices on older chips.

Key to Puma is an entirely new microarchitecture used to make a new microprocessor code-named Griffin, AMD said. Among Griffin's features are memory controllers that operate on a separate power plan than the cores, which means the cores can go into significantly reduced power states when not needed. In addition, the power-optimized HyperTransport 3.0 technology triple the peak I/O bandwidth, according to AMD. The chip will initially come out on the 65-nanometer process. Each core will contain a 1MB cache.

"We can change frequencies are lot faster with a lot more agility and that's important for Windows Vista," said Maurice Steinman, an AMD researcher based in Boston.

AMD said it was also planning a new chipset that it is calling the RS780. Based on PCI Express Generation 2 and the HyperTransport 3.0 specifications, RS780 will deliver DirectX 10 graphics processing, energy efficient high-definition multimedia support with the Unified Video Decoder, support for DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort, as well as native southbridge support for NAND flash with HyperFlash PowerXpress for dynamic switching between integrated and discrete graphics to extend battery life.

In addition to the Griffin microprocessor -- the central computing engine in computers -- the Puma platform includes ATI Radeon graphics chips, Nvidia chipset and graphics technologies and also different wireless technologies, AMD said.

With the launch of the Puma platform, AMD is taking important steps in system-level optimization through adding intelligence and increased coordination between the CPU, GPU and chipset. After Griffin's release, AMD will follow with Fusion, a chip that integrates graphics into the processor core in 2009.

Puma will be further discussed during a presentation by AMD Fellow, Maurice Steinman at the Spring Microprocessor Forum in San Jose, California on May 22nd.

About 44 percent of all desktop and laptops computers sold in 2006 had graphics cards as opposed to integrated graphics common in cheaper machines. AMD hopes that proportion will rise this year as the use of Microsoft's Vista operating system becomes more widespread.

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