In the past year, AMD seems to have been taking a sort of “strategy du jour” approach. We ship low cost processors! We do low power CPUs! Our parts are great for overclockers! We love home theater PCs!
Those messages weren’t really different from anything Intel, the 900 pound velociraptor in the CPU business, would offer up, but there was always a tinge of desperation. This became more noticeable as Intel slowly and methodically stripped away whatever technology edge AMD had. Intel’s Nehalem was really the last straw: AMD couldn’t even claim “true quad core” any longer.
The exception to this has been the company’s graphics division.
In this episode, the gang discusses the implications of Intel's $1.25 billion anti-trust settlement with AMD, the release of the Motorola Droid, and the Modern Warfare 2's record-breaking launch. We also answer a few doctor questions, and Gordon fumes about replacable laptop batteries, headshots, and games that play themselves in his most hilarious rant of the week yet.
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IBM's Roadrunner system at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico is no longer the planet's most powerful supercomputer. That distinction now belongs to a Cray supercomputer named "Jaguar" at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which regained the performance crown over the weekend, ComputerWorld reports.
Jaguar, which benefited from a few recent upgrades, is now capable of 1,759 petaflops per second courtesy of 224,162 processor cores. That's enough to jump ahead of IBM's Roadrunner, which dropped to 1,042 petaflops per second after it was repartitioned.
Number three on the list of supercomputers is Kraken at the National Institute for Computational Sciences at the University of Tennessee. Kraken is capable of churning out 832 teraflops per second and was ranked No. 6 in June.
One of the more interesting supercomputers belongs to China. The hybrid Intel-AMD Tianhe-1 in the city of Tianjin pushes out 563 teraflops per second, putting it in fifth place. China's supercomputer combines Intel's Xeon processors with AMD-brand GPUs as accelerators. Each node contains two Xeon chips attached to two AMD GPUs.
AMD this week unveiled a newly revamped roadmap outlining a pair of all-new processor architectures, as well as plans for its CPU/GPU integration, ArsTechnica reports.
Let's start with 'Bobcat,' which is the codename for AMD's new mobile architecture. AMD says Bobcat was built from the ground-up and will compete with Intel's Atom and VIA's Nano platforms. According to one of the slides AMD showed, Bobcat is "sub one-watt capable," though expect higher-clocked parts to sip more juice than that. The 32nm part will support SSE 1 through 3, and is slated to ship in 2011.
On the server side, AMD also announced its "Bulldozer" architecture. As ArsTechnica explains it, a single Bulldozer "module" will appear as a single processor core to the OS with simultaneous multithreading (SMT) enabled. It's unclear how many instructions per cycle the front-end can dispatch, other than at least four and probably as high as eight. Bulldozer will also launch in 2011.
There are a lot of winners in the $1.25 billion settlement between Intel and AMD. The most obvious one is AMD, who can use the money to pay off debt and put this longstanding legal dispute behind them. As part of the settlement, AMD also benefits from a new five-year cross licensing agreement.
In some respects, Intel can also be considered a winner, in that the chip maker could have ended up paying much more than $1.25 billion had this lawsuit gone the distance. And like AMD, Intel can put this episode behind them. And with both Intel and AMD no longer distracted by a costly court case, the two chip makers can put their full attention towards R&D.
"It's really good for the industry in general," said Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates. "Both companies had devoted a lot of top management to the fight. It's pretty distracting. You really want top executives concentrating on the business at hand."
OEMs like HP and Dell also come out ahead by being able to choose whichever processors and platforms they want, rather than which ones they're being told to use. And that's good for consumers, too.
It's not often that a bitter legal dispute ends up having so many winners, but that's certainly the case here.
Talk about vindication. AMD waited a long time for this day and took a lot of heat from the Intel faithful, but the chip maker finally got it was looking for: a huge settlement.
Finally putting to rest the longstanding antitrust dispute, Intel and AMD announced today a settlement agreement in which Intel will pay AMD $1.25 billion, as well as agree to "abide by a set of business practice provisions." In return, AMD will drop all pending litigation and withdraw all of its regulatory complaints worldwide.
"While the relationship between the two companies has been difficult in the past, this agreement ends the legal disputes and enables the companies to focus all of our efforts on product innovation and development," the chip makers said in a joint statement.
The dispute dates back to 2004 when AMD filed a case accusing Intel of unfair business practices that entailed snuffing the smaller chip maker out. Intel allegedly offered sizable rebates to key vendors in exchange for either dealing exclusively with Intel, or delaying the launch of AMD products.
While AMD has agreed to take its money and run, Intel might not be out of hot water completely. The settlement doesn't prevent governments from initiating antitrust cases against Intel.
AMD revealed new mobile and desktop platforms for the coming year, confirmed that it is launching a new dual GPU card next week codenamed “Hemlock,” and even gave the public a glimpse of its upcoming Fusion products that combines a traditional CPU and GPU in a monolithic die, at its annual briefing to financial analysts.
AMD is dubbing its upcoming Fusion products as the “APU” or Accelerated Processor Unit, the first of which will be codenamed “Llano.” Llano will combine a DX11, gigaflop-capable, graphics core with a quad core processor on a single die. Interestingly, Llano will not be based on the company’s new Bulldozer core. AMD will instead use an improved 32nm version of the current Stars core which currently powers the Phenom II.
Llano will be used in upcoming desktop and mobile platforms. The bad news for Llano is that it will not see the light of day until 2011. Intel is expected to beat it to the punch with its CPU cum GPU late next year. AMD officials, however, pooh poohed Intel’s approach.
It’s no secret that Nvidia and Intel are having a dispute over chipset licenses. Now it seems like Nvidia is getting a little fed up with the whole situation. On a new Nvidia website called “Intel’s Insides”, you’ll find a series of editorial style cartoons with some sharp criticisms of chip maker Intel.
The cartoons take aim mostly at Intel’s legal woes, which have gotten that much more severe with new US federal action this week. The US case is related to the same scandal that ended with Intel receiving massive fines in the EU. Intel is accused of bribing OEMs to keep them from using rival AMD’s chips. It all makes for some good cartoon fodder.
Editorial cartoonist Steve Lait creates the cartoons for Nvidia. The site explains that the series “is intended to be a parody of events occurring within the semiconductor sector, with particular focus on its largest and most commented-upon competitor." In all honesty, the cartoons aren’t that funny. But really, how amusing can the nuances of the semiconductor world be?
The shortage of the 40nm ATI Radeon HD 5000 series is being blamed on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's inability to keep pace with the demand due to low yields. On the other hand, the dearth of 55nm GPUs is due to the fact that they no longer figure prominently in AMD’s plans.
The report further claims that AMD has delayed the shipment of “its ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5000 series (Manhattan) GPUs for notebooks to the first quarter of 2010 from the originally planned fourth quarter of 2009.”
The Leo will reportedly combine a 45nm Phenom II series processor with either the 890FX or 890GX (RD890) northbridge and SB850 southbridge chipsets and an ATI Radeon HD 5000 series graphics card. This high-end desktop platform will also support AMD's upcoming six-core Thuban CPU, as per the report.
Moving on to the other platform, the sources said that the Dorado will bring together an Athlon II CPU, 880G (RS880P) northbridge and SB810 southbridge and HD 5000 series GPU. AMD refused to comment when contacted by Digitimes, saying that it cannot comment on unannounced products.