The Notebook Roadmap

For mainstream notebooks today AMD doesn’t really offer anything sexy. We have the Tigris platform based on the Caspian CPU (45nm Athlon II X2 derivative) and RS880M chipset with integrated Radeon HD 4300 series graphics (DX10.1).

Next year we get the Danube platform, complete with Champlain CPU (Athlon II X2 or X4 derivative) and relatively similar graphics to what we have now.

Like the desktop roadmap, things don’t get interesting until 2011; that’s when we meet Sabine.

Sabine comes with a Llano APU, just like the desktop, and four 32nm Phenom II-like cores. There isn’t a dual-core mainstream offering for mobile on the roadmap. Llano of course comes with a DX11 GPU on die, which AMD is calling GigaFLOPS-class. I guess we won’t have 4870 level performance on die at 32nm.

AMD doesn’t have a high performance CPU for ultrathin notebooks today. The only options are Consesus and Huron, both first generation K8 derivatives. They’re also fabbed at 65nm so they’re not exactly as small or power efficient as they could be.

Next year this starts to change with the Nile platform. It comes with a Geneva CPU, a lower power Athlon II derivative. That should help fix the performance issues. At 45nm we’ll hopefully see good battery life from the platform.

Come 2011, AMD has another CPU core for us; it’s called Bobcat. I first talked about Bobcat over two years ago, and we won’t see it for nearly another two years, incredible. It’s an ultra low power microprocessor architecture specifically designed for mobile. Assuming AMD didn’t exaggerate its claims, this should be the first real mobile competitor Intel has seen.

Bobcat will appear in the Ontario APU as a part of the Brazos platform. Hooray for more codenames.

If you look at AMD’s roadmap there are a couple of subtle hints to pay attention to. Note that Brazos extends top to bottom from Ultrathin down to Netbook, whereas no other AMD platform has ever completely gone down to the bottom of the Netbook segment. Could this be an indication of AMD’s ability to hit ultra low, Atom-like, pricepoints with Bobcat?

Secondly - the Brazos platform isn’t colored yellow, green or red for 65nm, 45nm or 32nm. I'm guessing that means Ontario will be built on a bulk 28nm process to save cost.

When I spoke to Globalfoundries earlier this year they indicated that fabbing on half nodes could be one option exploited by CPU companies looking to compete with Intel.

AMD's Take on Tick-Tock? Every 12 Months? Server Roadmap & Final Words


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  • pullmyfoot - Saturday, November 14, 2009 - link

    Finally. Im tired of Intel dominance. I havent seen seomthing really exciting from AMD like this in a long time. All the AMD stuff for the last three years have looked skimpy at best. But they really have a lot of stuff coming out. Not only that but it really looks like its going to be competitive this time. Late or not its better than nothing. Better than what theyve been coming out with for the past few years anyways (like that original Phenom bs). Happy to see that they are catching up pretty fast.

    Im an AMD fan, but I do admit, its true that AMD is really late. I wouldnt go as far as labling this Intel propaganda....

    I wonder what will change now that AMD has an extra $1.25 billion in their pockets. All this would have been in development for a long time and so that cash would have had no effect on it. However perhaps they might take a few more risks now that they have a billion of buffer with possibly more rewarding results.
  • Zool - Saturday, November 14, 2009 - link

    The GPU will be limited by the memory bandwith anyway until they dont come with a on die framebuffer and higher bandwith cpu memory. I think the main advantage will be the + paralel fp compute power if they can take advantage of the openCL or directcompute. Reply
  • Zool - Saturday, November 14, 2009 - link

    I also want to note that a combined CPU/GPU code that heawyly depend on each other (for example a complex game engine where AI,physics and colision detection would depend on each other and interact) would run several times faster with merged GPU/CPU (with shared higher level caches and same ram pool) than with a stand alone GPU and a CPU(it would crawl on a stand alone gpu and cpu actualy). With GPU comunicating trough pcie buss and with its own memmory the latencies would kill this kind of tasks. Its actualy one of the reasons why nvidias physX just act as a added layer with minimum game code interaction.
    The amd-s fusion is actualy a giant leap in this direction (to a real monolithic cpu/gpu). Nvidia doesnt have cpu-s and intel doesnt have a gpu (i doesnt count the GMA series).
    There is still one thing thats need to be solved and thats the memory bandwith. With shared memory and the need for the gpu to acts as a real gpu the next generation fusion chips will need ram bandwith
    over 100 GB/s (actualy that wouldnt be bad for the cpu part either :)).
  • duploxxx - Thursday, November 12, 2009 - link

    Final Words
    Unfortunately for AMD, 2010 isn’t really interesting. The company will have to rely on aggressive pricing and the continued success of its graphics teams to carry it for the next 12 - 18 months.

    those are your final words? Indeed there are no new architectures popping-up in 2010 but for the rest I think AMD is really focusing on execution which is very important against mighty INTEL. The laptop refresh is really needed for good competition and what about c32/g34 not important enough, it will close the gab quite a bit on the server platform. Perhaps ask Johan if he doesn´t see this as a big thing happening in the server world, it paves the path to next generation of AMD.
  • Carleh - Thursday, November 12, 2009 - link

    Victoria falls are on the Zambezi river, wondering what a waterfall has to do with microarchitecture, if anything. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, November 12, 2009 - link

    How about Nile, Geneva, Huron, Ontario, Conesus...

    All other bodies of water of varying levels of importance.
  • TETRONG - Thursday, November 12, 2009 - link

    Funny, I worked at a semicon company here in Calif. There was this crazy engineer who wouldn't shut up about Zambezi. Every spare moment he would be working on it, swearing that AMD was going to want the specs right away. Everyone would scream "Stop working on Zambezi!" Do something useful.

    This was three years ago. Talk about execution.
  • grimpr - Thursday, November 12, 2009 - link

    Yes, he also forgot to mention that the GPU Core of Llano 1st gen Fusion APU will be leveraged by DirectX11 DirectCompute and OpenCL in constrast to Intels crap IGP GMA successor in Sandy Bridge.

    A perfect candidate for Laptops and low priced mainstream desktops. Beefy desktops will reside with Bulldozer 8 cores / 16 threads and ATI's next gen 32nm discreet GPU at probably 8 Teraflops on the X2 Parts considering that Hemlock X2 has 5 Teraflops of Floating Point Power.

    Take care.

  • gost80 - Thursday, November 12, 2009 - link

    Wait, wait, wait, wait,... 1 billion?

    Lets do the math...

    GPU transistors = 1B - ~750M (Phenom II X4) = ~<300M

    That is only a bit more than a 4550 (~250M). So what I am hearing is, the next-gen, not-yet-released, coming-in-2-years, the-bees-knees, 32nm APU chip has a GPU is about as fast as the lowest end 55nm card you can find?

    Wow, I am so impressed... NOT!

    I guess this one is just IGP replacement for fusion platform. And if my guess is right, should take about 150 mm^2. Making the price around 80-150, depending on competing intel stuff.

    Context: I own AMD stock.
  • qcmadness - Thursday, November 12, 2009 - link

    Propus (AthlonII x4): 300M transistor (with 2 x 64-bit DDR-2 / DDR-3 MC)
    RV730 (320SP HD46x0): 514M transistor (with 128-bit DDR-2 / (G)DDR-3 MC)

    But I do agree with your 150mm^2 assumption.
    (300M x 0.25 + 700M x 0.125) = ~ 160mm^2

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