Thursday, February 02, 2012
AMD's Changes Chip Design Methodology, Updates
Roadmaps, Focuses On Tablets And Cloud
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At its annual Financial Analyst Day, AMD detailed a
new "ambidextrous" strategy that builds on the
company's long history of x86 and graphics innovation
while embracing other technologies and intellectual
property to deliver differentiated products.
AMD new chief executive Rory Read said the company
would leverage its PC chip technology to attack the
fast-growing tablet segment as well as emerging
markets but stay away from the smartphone market.
"We're going to double down on client and mobility ...
I'm not suggesting we dive into smartphones, a heavily
crowded space with low margins ... I'm going to focus
on client mobility, thin and light," Read said.
AMD plans to adopt an SoC-centric roadmap designed to
speed time-to-market, drive sustained execution, and
enable the development of more tailored solutions. AMD
says that SoC design methodology is advantageous
because it is a modular approach to processor design,
leveraging best practice tools and microprocessor
design flows with the ability to easily re-use IP and
design blocks across a range of products.
"AMD's strategy capitalizes on the convergence of
technologies and devices that will define the next era
of the industry," said Rory Read. "The trends around
consumerization, the Cloud and convergence will only
grow stronger in the coming years. AMD has a unique
opportunity to take advantage of this key industry
inflection point. We remain focused on continuing the
work we began last year to re-position AMD. Our new
strategy will help AMD embrace the shifts occurring in
the industry, marrying market needs with innovative
technologies and become a consistent growth engine."
Read said AMD would focus on opportunities in cloud
computing and growing demand from developing countries
like China for entry level PCs and other devices.
Facing problems manufacturing a newly launched 32
nanometer PC chip, Read in November announced he was
slashing 10 percent of AMD's workforce to save about
$200 million in annual operating costs.
AMD Chief Financial Officer Thomas Siefert told
analysts on Thursday he expects gross margins in 2012
between 44 percent and 48 percent. AMD in the fourth
quarter had a gross margin of 46 percent.
AMD has long struggled to keep up with much larger
Intel in powerful PC processors. It and Intel now face
challenges from companies like Qualcomm that are
planning to make low-end PC chips using power-sipping
technology licensed to them by ARM Holdings.
New product roadmaps
Additionally, AMD today announced updates to its
product roadmaps for AMD Central Processing Unit (CPU)
and Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) products it
plans to introduce in 2012 and 2013. The roadmap
modifications address priorities across form factors
including ultrathin notebooks, tablets, all-in-ones,
desktops and servers with a clear focus on low power,
emerging markets and the Cloud.
AMD's updated product roadmap features second
generation mainstream ("Trinity") and low-power
("Brazos 2.0") APUs for notebooks and desktops;
"Hondo," an APU specifically designed for tablets; new
CPU cores in 2012 and 2013 with "Piledriver" and its
successor "Steamroller," as well as "Jaguar," which is
the successor to AMD's "Bobcat" core. In 2012, AMD
plans to introduce four new AMD Opteron processors.
"Brazos 2.0" Accelerated Processor Unit (APU) family
will be used for essential desktop and notebook,
netbook, tablet, all-in-one and small desktop form
factors. AMD will add plenty of new features to the
"Brazos 2.0" APU family, including increased CPU and
GPU performance, longer battery life, a bevy of
integrated I/O options and improvements to AMD Steady
Video technology. "Brazos 2.0" is scheduled to hit the
market in the first half of 2012.
AMD's "Trinity" APU for desktop and notebook remains
on track for introduction in mid-2012, with plans to
pack up to four "Piledriver" CPU cores and
next-generation DirectX 11-capable graphics
technology, together delivering up to 50% more compute
performance than AMD's "Llano" offerings, including
superior entertainment potential, longer battery-life
and HD graphics.
New for 2012, AMD will introduce a low voltage
"Trinity" APU that will be aimed at next-generation of
ultrathin notebook. This "Trinity" APU matches the
experience enabled by the AMD 2011 APU in up to half
the TDP. "Trinity"is on track for
introduction in mid-2012.
In 2012 AMD will also introduce the ultra-low voltage
"Hondo" APU for tablets. These low-power (power maxes
out at 5W TDP) APUs will have "Bobcat" CPU cores and
support DirectX 11 technology in a BGA or pin-less,
thin processor package. Look for these in the second
half of 2012.
On the desktop platform side of things, the "Vishera"
CPU will replace the "Komodo" CPU for desktop. This
change enables accelerated time to market for improved
performance and next-generation CPU features while
maintaining the existing AM3+ motherboards. The
"Vishera" CPU ushers in many updates, includes 8
"Piledriver" cores, and when compared with the
previous generation, provides higher frequencies,
improved instruction per clock performance, advanced
instruction sets (thus increasing application
performance), additional DDR3 memory support and
next-generation AMD Turbo Core Technology. AMD plans
to launch "Vishera" in the second half of 2012.
2013 brings evolution to AMD's client roadmaps
including moving its low power APUs to a system on a
chip (SoC) design with the AMD Fusion Controller Hub
integrated right into a single chip design.
In the performance APU category our third-generation
APU, "Kaveri," will employ "Steamroller" (the
evolution of AMD's "Piledriver"core architecture) x86
cores for enhanced instructions per clock and power
advantages. "Kaveri" will also be AMD's first
"Applications that take advantage of GPU accelerate
will give users an amazing experience thanks to our
Graphics Core Next and new Heterogeneous Systems
Architecture (HSA) enabling features for easier
programming of accelerated processing capabilities,"
AMD's new chip
design called Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA)
which enables software developers to program APUs by
combining scalar processing on the CPU with parallel
processing on the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), all
while providing high bandwidth access to memory at low
power. AMD is working to make HSA an open industry
standard for the developer community.
HSA will reach maturity by 2014 with 64-bit
addressing, virtual memory, better internal bandwidth
and software taking advantage of both processing
units, AMD said. A chip code-named Kabini for
low-power laptops due in 2013 will see HSA at work.
In the low power category, the "Kabini" SoC APU takes
over for "Brazos 2.0." This second generation low
power APU integrates "Jaguar" x86 cores for augmented
performance and energy efficiency. These APUs will
also benefit from select HSA features and
AMD's second generation, ultra-low-power "Temash" SoC
APU will follow "Hondo" for tablet and other fanless
form factors. This APU will also leverage the "Jaguar"
low-power x86 cores and HSA features.
AMD also changed its server roadmaps. The company's
previous roadmap featured two CPUs for later this
year; the 20-core "Terramar" and the 10-core "Sepang."
These were going to be in all new platforms/socket
infrastructures. AMD says that that would potentially
have caused a disruption in the data center and more
complexity in managing multiple generations of
platforms. Instead, AMD says it found new a way to
deliver better performance than it was expecting in
those platforms, but still do it in the same G34 and
C32 packages as today's AMD Opteron 4000 and 6000
This means AMD's customers will be able to the next
generation processors, code named "Abu Dhabi" and
"Seoul," and still continue to buy the same platforms
that they have been deploying. The same platforms can
be used with AMD Opteron 6100 Series, 6200 Series and
the upcoming "Abu Dhabi" processors or the AMD Opteron
4100 Series, 4200 Series and upcoming "Seoul"
processors. Core counts will remain the same, but the
overall performance will take a jump.
And because these drop into the same platform, the
thermals stay consistent because these upcoming
processors need to live in the same platform power
requirements as their predecessors.
AMD claims that it managed to get more performance in
the same core counts, through the integration of the
"Piledriver" core, AMD's next generation CPU core. As
you will recall, the AMD Opteron 4200 and 6200 Series
processors featured the "Bulldozer" core, and the next
evolution of that core is "Piledriver," which adds
additional clock frequency and some IPC improvements.
Beyond "Piledriver," the next 2 generations of cores
will be "Steamroller" and "Excavator." AMD did not
disclose what is in these next 2 cores, but expects to
continually increase performance and power efficiency.
"Zurich" is the codename of AMD's upcoming single
socket server processors. "Zurich" will launch this
quarter with the "Bulldozer" core and then be followed
up with "Delhi", featuring "Piledriver", around the
same time that the other processors pick up the newest
Last, but certainly not least, AMD has added the "Sea
Islands" family to its graphics roadmap. The company
did not gave any additional details, other that it
will be released in 2013.
For the Desktop GPUs, AMD has already released the high-end Radeon HD 7900 series (Tahiti). AMD will start shipping the remaining HD 7000 family GPUs - "Pitcairn" and "Cape Verde" for the "preformance" segment as well as an ultra entusiast model later this year.
Next up in AMD's release schedule is Cape Verde, which are expected to appear in the Radeon HD 7750 and HD 7770 next month. Cape Verde is expected to feature 896 SP over 14 CUs and 56 TMU, with a core frequency of 900 MHz in the HD 7770 SKU. HD 7750 will come with 1 CU disabled for a total of 832 SP and 52 TMU. The Cape Verde die will also feature a 128-bit interface.
The "Pitcairn" GPUs are expectde to appear sometime in March, with the Radeon HD 7850 and HD 7870. Pitcairn will feature 1408 SP/22 CU/ 88 TMU.
Last but certainly not least, the "New Zealand' dual-GPU is slated for an early Q2 2012 release. New Zealand will be branded HD 7990 and is expected to become AMD's fastest graphics card.
In the mobile GPU merket, the Radeon 7000M series of GPUs codenamed "London" will be released this year. It will include a high-end model based on the GCN architecture, the "performance" HD 7600M, the mainstream 7500M and the "value" 7400M. All these three GPUs will be based on the "Terascale II" architecture.