Tuesday, December 11, 2007

AMD’s Next-Gen Microprocessor Still Does Not Exist – Company

Advanced Micro Devices said that while its next-generation code-named Shanghai processor is scheduled to be unveiled in the second half of next year, the world’s second largest chipmaker still has not produced a single working sample of it. As a result, it now depends on luck whether the firm is on-track to release its 45nm chips not much later compared to Intel Corp.

“We have 45nm on the way. We will have initial samples also in January. I’m fairly confident that those puppies are going to boot,” said Mario Rivas, executive vice president of computing products group at AMD, in an interview with CRN web-site.

AMD Opteron quad-core and dual-core processors code-named Shanghai, which are expected to be released in the second half of 2008, will use AMD’s K10 micro-architecture that will be present already in the code-named Barcelona processors, but will contain some performance enhancements. Thin 45nm process technology will allow AMD to install 512KB of L2 cache per core as well as 6MB of unified L3 cache, which is a significant enhancement compared to Barcelona.

Recently AMD discovered an erratum inside its Barcelona design and said that it would take it about three months to apply the fix to the shipping central processing units, which are made using three months. As a result, the company is projected to start shipping the new chips sometimes in February or March, 2008. Since the initial samples of Shanghai are not expected to contain the fix, it means that it will take AMD another three months to fix the design of its 45nm server chip too. Still, AMD seems to be optimistic about its development of the 45nm product.

“The 45nm, we consider it Rev C of the device. So all the learning, all the hard knocks that we had on Barcelona, we're going to apply it to Shanghai,” Mr. Rivas added.

Intel Corp., the world’s largest supplier of x86 central processing units (CPUs) and the arch-rival of AMD, demonstrated its first working code-named Nehalem processors, which are made using 45nm process technology and feature new micro-architecture along with some other improvements, back in September, 2007. While this does not guarantee that those Nehalem chips are errata-free, what is obvious is that Intel’s Nehalem chips are currently four months ahead of AMD’s Shanghai. More importantly, Intel is already shipping its 45nm chips based on Core 2 micro-architecture, enjoying performance advantages along with potential decreased manufacturing costs.

The destiny of AMD’s next-generation desktop processors code-named Deneb, Prophus and Sargas, due to be out in the second half of 2008, which support DDR3 memory as well as are intended for socket AM3 platforms, is currently unclear.

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