There's interesting stuff happening in mobility these days, so I thought I'd rattle off a few thoughts.

AMD quietly announced their Turion brand at CES. Intel put $2B of marketing dollars into Centrino and AMD combats with a nearly silent launch at CES of nothing more than a name?

When I first heard about Turion I thought - well, maybe AMD had spun off a design team to work on a mobile core from the ground up. However, given their announcement strategy and the fact that all they are saying about Turion is that it's based on the "AMD64" architecture, I get the feeling that it's little more than a power binned, low voltage, 90nm Athlon 64. I'm hoping there's more to it than just that, but at this point I don't have very high expectations.

If Turion does end up being just a rebranded Athlon 64, I can't help but feel that AMD will be competing with Centrino on little more than a marketing basis. The architecture of Dothan, from a mobile standpoint, has yet to see a rival from any of its competition - and it's going to take a lot more than a new brand to be competitive.

On the flip side, AMD does have a much more power consumption friendly basis to derive a mobile chip from than Intel did with the Pentium 4. It is possible, if AMD had been working on it for the past 3 years, for Turion to be a separate rev of the K8 core with a handful of mobile specific optimizations. In terms of pipeline depth I'd expect that K8 and Banias/Dothan are quite similar and with its on-die memory controller AMD could, in theory, do some pretty interesting power management that would offer lower power consumption compared to an external north bridge. This is all very speculative and may be a bit of wishful thinking, but I guess we'll find out soon enough.

I'm working on the delayed desktop Pentium M article right now, which is partially responsible for the subject of today's post. From my discussions with motherboard manufacturers it sounds like they are all interested in making desktop Pentium M motherboards, but no one is actually going to commit to it other than AOpen and DFI, who are both currently shipping. Shuttle is toying with the idea as well, but I'm afraid that outside of the AOpen/DFI solutions, Dothan's life will be over before the rest of the motherboard market gives it a chance on the desktop. That may or may not be a good thing (as you'll see from the article), but it may be that we have to wait for Yonah/Jonah (65nm dual core Dothan successor) for another chance at Pentium M on the desktop.

Because of some HTML mixup everyone seems to think that Apple is on the verge of releasing a PowerBook G5. Looking at the power consumption of IBM's PowerPC 970FX, it is quite possible for Apple to do a 1.8GHz G5 in a notebook, especially given how aggressively the CPU will scale itself down when idle or not fully tasked. I wouldn't be too surprised to see Apple offer a G5 based PowerBook sooner rather than later simply because it seems that their own marketing has cast a heavy shadow over the G4 processor, despite the fact that the G4 is a very capable contender - especially at its higher clock speed versions. I think more than offering a G5 based PowerBook, I'd like to see Apple try their hands at an ultraportable (or something at least a little lighter than the 12" PowerBook).

That's all for now, more ramblings as they pop into my head.
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  • Andrew Guyton - Thursday, March 3, 2005 - link

    Pentium D, anyone?
  • Eug - Saturday, January 29, 2005 - link

    Just a note that the G5 power specs published by IBM are for "typical" usage. It seems that max power is roughly twice that number, although it seems recent steppings are lowering that max. I'd like to see a G5 1.8 PowerBook, although I'd settle for a 1.8 GHz G4 7448 (which has 1 MB L2).

    P.S. I'd be surprised if Apple releases an ultraportable, cuz:

    1) Apple seems to hate high pixel density screens. And so do I. The 12.1" in the iBook and PowerBook is already over 106 ppi, which is high by Apple standards.

    2) Apple seems to hate laptops without a built-in optical drive. And so do I.

    3) Apple seems to hate non-standard key sizes in keyboards. And so do I. if I spend 10 minutes on my friend's 12" Vaio, my wrists hurt.
  • Live - Saturday, January 29, 2005 - link

    Well AMD seems to be all about "silent" releases now a day. Last A64 90nm stepping, higher clocked and 90 nm Semprons etc.

    I have seen quite a few reporting that as a positive sign. There reasoning has gone in the lines of: much better things to come soon so no need in marketing the current relatively small changes. The new EO stepping and Turion will incorporate "miracles" from IBM and that’s when the real marketing will start.

    I must say I'm skeptical about those claims. AMD usually are rather good at announcing things they think are good (not in the same league as Intel, MS) and have a history at being very quiet when they have problems. Usually they ignore publicly the problems even exist until they are solved. If they really have something up there sleeve I bet we will hear about it mid February.

    As for desktop Pentium M outside of geek dome, ultra silent and the SFF realm I don’t see much use for it on the desktop. Not that that is anything to snicker about, but I’d rather see a big round up of Sonoma based laptops compared to the now hopefully lower priced older Centrino notebooks. Come to think about it I haven seen anything about Sonoma on AnandTech.
  • jasonsRX7 - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    I don't know about an Apple ultraportable. Ultraportables don't have built in optical drives, which would mean that Apple would have to develop an external combo/superdrive, and that just doesn't seem like their style to me. Just my guess but who knows.

    I've had an ultraportable before (IBM X series) and while the thinness and light weight are great, it was so annoying not having a burner when I needed it. I get far more practical use out of my 15" Powerbook now.
  • Andrew Guyton - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    Am I the only one who thinks that when Intel officially releases a Pentium M to the desktop, it will be called the Pentium D? (Celeron M, Celeron D...)

    What do you think?

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