AMD Update: Following in Intel's Naming Footstepsby Kristopher Kubicki on May 18, 2004 6:09 AM EST
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Update July 2004: AMD went against their roadmap and launched the Sempron CPU without the Intel Product Name scheme. We reported on the event here, but have left the article up for historial value.
4AM and the phone rings; our Asian correspondents have another roadmap for us. Excellent. After all, who doesn't enjoy writing about AMD processor roadmaps in the indecent hours of the morning.
Fortunately our perseverance is not unrewarded. The first important information we have to report on is the impending death of Duron. While many say good riddance, many others are reminded of our recent Duron benchmarks to conclude there is a definite processor hierarchy in the low end market. AMD's new chip; code named "Value" for now will eventually replace Duron, although specifications are hazy at best. What we do know is that the new chip is designed to aggressively compete with Celeron (with an advantage) and Celeron Only. Interpret that as you will. We also have other interesting specifications; the processor will be 32-bit only, it will span three socket architectures (Socket A, Socket 754, Socket 939), it will support dual channel memory on Socket 939 and will have the same NX (No eXecute) "antivirus" support found in the new Athlon 64, Efficeon, future Intel and Sparc processors.
According to the roadmap, the new processor will essentially replace the Athlon XP for Socket 754 which has been talked about in roadmaps before this one today. AMD's new move to specifically market to and target low end "Value" sector seems contradictory to the same roadmap which prints a study claiming the sub-$600 PC market does not particularly regard processor brand as important. AMD sounds fairly aggressive with the initiative to outpace Celeron D (Prescott based Celeron, 512KB L2 cache 533MHz FSB) which will already surface this week.
But more important than what AMD will name the new processor is how they will name the new processor; recall Intel's move to product numbers? AMD will in fact move the "Value" based processors off a "PR" rating to a number based system instead. AMD already has experience with this in the Opteron line, but moving the entire value segment to mimic Intel's rating system seems just as ambitious. We can only guess that AMD is testing the water for a new naming procedure on the sub-$600 PC market that does not regard processor brand name as important. Particularly when the newest roadmap claims:
AMD is evaluating the model number methodology for the "Value" brand giving recent press articles on Intel's change from GHz to model numbering.
Undoubtedly we will see AMD shift to a similar nomenclature for their other product lines if they can similarly market their value segment accordingly to Intel. Without a doubt, AMD's numbering system bares a striking resemblance to that of Intel. According to AMD's roadmaps, these new processors appear to be based off the 256KB L2 130nm "Paris" cores for Socket 939/754 and 512KB L2 130nm "Barton" cores for Socket A.
|AMD "Value" Naming|
|Processor||Socket||Launch Date||Old Name|
|"Value" 370||Socket 939||Q2'05||N/A|
|"Value" 350||Socket 754||Q4'04||N/A|
|"Value" 340||Socket 939||Q4'04||N/A|
|"Value" 320||Socket 754||Q3'04||N/A|
|"Value" 320||Socket A||Q3'04||XP 3200+|
|"Value" 300||Socket A||Q3'04||XP 3000+|
|"Value" 280||Socket A||Q3'04||XP 2800+|
|"Value" 270||Socket A||Q3'04||XP 2700+|
|"Value" 260||Socket A||Q3'04||XP 2600+|
Aside from AMD's new approach to the value segment, we also have more information on new processors. According to the recent roadmap we can expect to see Athlon FX-57 in Q2'05. To no surprise FX-55 and FX-57 will only debut on the dual channel Socket 939 architecture. Most interesting, however, is the small footnote below the roadmap which claims the FX-55 and Athlon 64 >4000+ (presumably 4200+) will require 104 watts/80 amps. According to P = IV, we assume the processors must be running at 1.3V. A significant change in core voltage can only mean that AMD is using a different core for these processors-- current Clawhammer Athlon 64s run on 1.5V. So are we to believe the upcoming 90nm transition to "San Diego" and "Winchester" cores will come this fall? If so, the design of the upcoming 90nm "San Diego" and "Winchester" architectures will decrease core voltage but increase overall wattage. This sounds extremely similar to Intel's newest 90nm venture, Prescott.
All of this news comes hot on the heels of AMD's open announcements to pursue dual core technology, which in turn comes hot on the heels of Intel's February decision to do the same. Perhaps as Intel and AMD both approach the threshold of power consumption, the solution becomes more instead of faster. Wasn't it a 15th century playwright who once claimed "Many hands make light work?"