Yesterday we published our coverage of AMD's Bobcat and Bulldozer architecture disclosures. If you haven't had a chance to read the piece or haven't been following AMD for the past few years: Bobcat is AMD's new low power architecture, while Bulldozer is targeted at high end desktops and servers. Both are due out sometime in 2011 and both promise a lot.

Now that AMD has completed its presentation at Hot Chips 22 we're allowed to share with you the contents of those presentations. There's not much in here that we haven't already covered in yesterday's article, but if you'd like the full slide deck head over to the AnandTech Galleries.

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • has407 - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - link

    Thanks very much for posting the Hot Chips slides.

    I keep seeing words such as "synthesizable", "custom" and "portable" with respect to Bobcat and it makes me wonder... Might AMD be moving more towards the ARM approach with the Bobcat? E.g., providing it as a standard component available for on-die/fab custom/SoC integration?

    That would seem to be the best approach to bring the x86 ISA down to the level needed to compete in very low power solutions (such as where ARM lives)--a step Intel doesn't seem willing to take? Yes, Intel is pushing down the power of the CPU, but if a third-party wants to integrate it on-die with something else, I don't see Intel going there.

    So you're looking for a single-die/fab SoC solution with a decent CPU... AFAIK today that means ARM, Z-80, 6502, MIPS, etc. derivatives. Are there any (modern) x86 ISA derivatives available?

    Might Bobcat be aimed at that market? That might be very attractive, especially if coupled with availability through TMSC or GF?
  • dicobalt - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - link

    x86 licensing would make that impossible.
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - link

    How so?

    AMD is definitely looking for markets for their products beyond traditional desktops and laptops. Absolutely the right direction to be going.
  • dicobalt - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - link

    Intel already gave Globalfoundries a hard time about producing x86 chips saying they needed another license because the one from AMD does not apply to GF.

    As it stands now AMD/GF, Intel, and VIA are the only companies licensed to work with x86. Companies who want to alter the Bobcat CPU would be stuck with AMD as designer and GF as the fab. Intel would have to start handing out licenses for x86, and that won't happen because it would help AMD. There will be a few versions of Bobcat straight from AMD/GF and that's it, same as Atom.
  • fic2 - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - link

    From a Daily Tech article about Bobcat, et all:

    "Ontario will feature 2 Bobcat cores paired with an AMD GPU. The combined system-on-a-chip (SoC) will be produced at the 40 nm node at TSMC's chip fabs."

    Now, I guess it is possible to fab the Bobcat cores at GF and ship the wafers to TSMC to test/cut and combine the SoC but seems like it would be better to do it all in the same fab.
  • Roland00 - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - link

    The only companies currently allowed to work on x86 cpus are Intel, Via, and AMD. Intel for they own the patents and Via and AMD due to lingering licenses from the 80s that are good indefinitely (unless the companies are bough, merged, etc)

    Here is the small part where you were wrong, since the FTC settlement with Intel, one of the key provisions is that the other licenses of x86 (via and amd) may use other fabs to do their designs, thus they can use TMSC or GlobalFabs or one of the other Fabs in the world.

    AMD now no longer has to use GlobalFabs for their designs, they can use any fab including TMSC.
  • has407 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    dicobalt and Roland00 -- Thanks for the sanity check, and I nominally agree. However, a few points worth clarifying...

    The Intel licenses are not perpetual. AMD renewed theirs ~1996 (no idea when it expires). Via's expires in 2013, although the FTC settlement requires Intel to extend that for 5 years.

    The FTC settlement is an important change, but agree it's unlikely to allow for the full range of ARM-like licensing. (Intel may ultimately regret that, as ARM's licensing mode has produced a far deeper and wider base. Intel has been largely successful by attacking from below over the last three decades; it would be ironic if Intel forgot that lesson and suffered the same fate from ARM. But that's another subject.)

    In any case, the FTC settlement provides more wiggle room for licensees, but does not specify the boundaries in any detail; relevent excerpt from the FTC(

    In addition, the FTC settlement order will require Intel to:

    - modify its intellectual property agreements with AMD, Nvidia, and Via so that those companies have more freedom to consider mergers or joint ventures with other companies, without the threat of being sued by Intel for patent infringement;

    Obviously the "mergers" (and by extension, acquisition/divestuture) of that verbiage is aimed squarely at addressing Intel's threats against such as AMD-GF, and maybe a Via-??? merger/acquisition/whatever.

    The "joint venture" part is more intriguing... So what if Apple, or MSFT, or whoever came to AMD and said "We'll pay you to produce an x86-based SoC for us. In addition to an x86 core, it needs X, Y and Z, which we'll provide. And BTW we want at least two independent fabs capable of providing it. The IP will be put in escrow and made available to another x86 licensee (e.g., Via) in case you flake out or tank. And after providing it to us exclusively for N years, you're free to sell it to whoevver you want, subject to royalties of $x/unit."

    Such is typical of joint ventures, but will it pass muster based on the FTC settlement? Hard to tell, but I'd bet AMD's, Via's and Nvidia's lawyers are working furiously to get as much as they can while the pressure is on Intel. (And who knows, it may save Intel/x86 from themselves, because Intel's greatest threat is surely not AMD or Via, but ARM).
  • ssj4Gogeta - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    Haven't Intel already opened Atom to such customizations?
  • quanta - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - link

    AMD claimed the Bulldozer will support SSE4 and AVX, but there is no mention of SSE4a and SSE5 support in Bulldozer slides (SSE4a is suppported in Bobcat). Since AMD had split SSE5 into XOP, FMA4, and CVT16 instruction sets[1], and the slides only show XOP is included in Bulldozer, what happened to the remaining SSE5 components?

  • MGP-1 - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    Does anyone know who was the responsible for the Bulldozer architecture? Whoever it was deserves world recognition, it's brilliant. Pity AMD is stuck with an uninspiring GF technology to build it on; with an Intel 22nm process this beauty would fly. If anyone knows the answer, please e-mail me on, thanks.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now