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AMD champions notebook platform

Posted: 09 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CPU? Puma Griffin Swift? 65nm?

As part of its broad attempt to grab a bigger slice of the fastest growing segment in computing, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has rolled out a new notebook processor and platform last. The 65nm Griffin CPU and Puma platform lay the groundwork for a 45nm notebook CPU called Swift that will have embedded graphics and debut in early 2010.

The Swift CPU is the spearhead of AMD's broader accelerated computing initiative that will combine graphics and other cores on to its x86 processors. So far, the company is not giving any details about Swift or the so-called Shrike notebook platform on which it will debut.

AMD has won as many as 100 design wins for its current Griffin CPU, twice as many as its last generation notebook processor. Officially known as the Turion X2 Ultra, the CPU runs at up to 2.4GHz at an average 35W power consumption. It initially will appear in notebooks from Acer, Fujitsu, Fujitsu Siemens, MSI, NEC and Toshiba.

The CPU is unique in that it uses the 3.0 version of the HyperTransport interconnect, and it can run its two cores at separate frequencies and voltages based on demand. Intel has said the capability which it does not offerdoes not significantly alter system-level power consumption.

An associated chipset, the AMD M780G and AMD SB700, provides a host of media features not currently offered on Intel's Centrino platform. They include support for hardware acceleration of H.264 video decode, Microsoft DirectX 10.1 graphics APIs, PCIe 2.0 and HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces.

Intel said it would deliver the media features in its latest generation of desktop chip sets, its 4-series parts announced at Computex in Taipei. Intel will refresh its Centrino notebook platform in July. The Montevina platform will support most of the media features, but it may not support Express 2.0.

Head-on collision
Both Intel and AMD have been adding application-level tools to their platforms to appeal to specific market segments. The new AMD Puma platform has tools and applets specific for gamers, consumers of digital media and business users.

"There's flexibility in how OEMs implement these solutions and they do not have to use our branding," said Scott Shutter, notebook division brand manager at AMD.

The new platform also lets the system dynamically use integrated and discrete graphics chips based on whether a notebook is plugged into AC power. Users can select the level of graphics performance they want, including a hybrid of integrated and discrete graphics that AMD claims provides a 70 percent performance boost over integrated graphics alone.

AMD claims an Atheros 802.11n chip available for the notebook significantly outperforms Intel's planned .11n chip. However, Intel has demonstrated remote support capabilities unique to its Wi-Fi chips that may be attractive to business users.

Some OEMs have said they don't see much difference between the AMD and Intel platforms. Both solutions leave them with little room for product differentiation beyond the industrial design of the cases, one engineer suggested.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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