AMD, once on top of the world with its Athlon 64 lineup, has been hit hard by Intel ever since the rival chip maker abandoned its infatuation with Netburst and began pushing its Core architecture to much fanfare. Phenom hasn't been the phenomenal success AMD had hoped it would be, and it appears the company has finally reached a crossroads for future operations.
Rather than continue on with business as usual, AMD has chosen another path, one in which the chip maker will be split into two companies, with one staying focused on designing processors and the other setting its sights on manufacturing them. Giving the separated companies a boost, AMD says it will receive at least $6 billion from two Abu Dhabi investment firms, which will mostly go towards financing a new chip factory near Albany and to upgrade the company's Fab in Dresden, Germany.
AMD will own 44 percent of the new entity, which will temporarily be known as the Foundry Company, with the Abu Dhabi government formed Advanced Technology Investment Company owning the rest. ATIC will invest $2.1 billion in the venture right way, with $3.6 billion to $6 billion to be injected later on.
"We generally believe this deal is a game changer for the industry," said Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chief executive of Mubadala. "It's bold, and I think it's smart."
AMD's Dirk Meyer agrees, saying the split will make AMD a financially stronger company. And there's no doubt AMD could use financial relief, who at last count reported it carried a $5.3 billion debt while maintaining only $1.6 billion in cash.
Could this be the boost AMD needs to finally go toe-to-toe with Intel, or is this the beginning of the end? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Intel's upcoming Core i7 platform may throw a curveball to anyone swinging sticks of high performance DDR memory. According to news and rumor site The Inquirer, running memory voltage any higher than a modest 1.65V on an X58-based motherboard outfitted with a Core i7 processor could damage the CPU.
The limitation came to light thanks to an admin on the XFastest forums who posted pictures of the unreleased Asus P6T Deluxe motherboard in retail trim. A closeup of the DIMM slots reveals a warning label which states "According to Intel CPU SPEC, DIMMs with voltage setting over 1.65V may damage the CPU permanently. We recommend you install the DIMMs with the voltage setting below 1.65V.
If true (and The Inq claims Asus has confirmed the limitation), it would mean that several of today's high end DDR3 memory could potentially be rendered useless on the new platform. It's not uncommon for RAM manufacturers to require higher voltages at stock settings, and even many DDR3-1333 kits call for more than 1.65V. Apparently the problem lies with having the CPU and memory voltages on the Core i7 platform run synchronously. That's a major bummer for anyone who may have tried to future-proof their current build, but if you haven't jumped on the DDR3 bandwagon yet, expect to see appropriately spec'd kits start to surface with the Core i7 platform in mind. In the meantime, buyer beware.
Perhaps AMD's assembly line has kicked it up a notch, but whatever the reason, the chip maker is informing its server partners that it plans to bump up the launch of its 45nm server CPUs (Shanghai) from January 2009 to the middle of this month. According to sources at these server makers, nine processors will initially be released, ranging in core frequency from 2.3GHz up to 2.7GHz.
Five of the Shanghai chips will ship as a 2-way model, with the remaining four being 8-way models. All of them will take residence in AMD's socket F (1207) and boast an on-die DDR2 memory controller. Each will also come outfitted with 6MB of L2 cache.
AMD will follow up these initial CPUs in February 2009 with five 55W models (three 2-way and the two 8-way), and two 105W models (one 2-way and one 8-way).
Barcelona might have been a sullen nightmare for AMD but it seems to have moved on. It has now pinned its hopes on Shanghai, a quad-core processor for the server market, which happens to be its first processor to be synthesized on a 45-nanometer process.
The company has begun shipping Shanghai to its OEM partners. Shanghai will be launched ahead of time, before the end of this year, unlike Barcelona that was plagued by delays.
Whatever you do, don't blame the bad economy on Intel. Engineers working for the chip maker claim today's processors have netted a savings of 20 Terawatt hours over that of earlier generations if used in the same time period. In monetary terms, that equates to saving the world economy $2 billion in energy costs since the Core architecture's launch two years ago. Of course, the inefficient and hot-running Prescotts of yesteryear didn't exactly set the bar very high for green improvements, but $2 billion (if correct) is impressive no matter how you slice it.
"This is no small figure - it’s a significant amount of energy savings, and an example of what technology innovation by the ICT industry can do to improve energy efficiency on a large scale," writes Lorie Wiggle, GM of Intel's Eco-Technology Program.
Meanwhile, while Intel's Atom series doesn't have nearly the global energy impact as its desktop and business CPUs do, it's interesting to note that the recently released dual-core Atom 330 processor doubles up its power consumption over the Atom 230 processor.
The crisp chill of fall brings change to the seasons and a never ending string of corporate rebranding. AMD is next on the block and rumored to be revising its product roadmap to increase the indentifying model numbers on its upcoming processors from four to five digits. The Phenom X3 and X4 branding will remain, but according to industry sources quoted by Tom’s Hardware, this will also change the AMD product roadmap in some interesting ways. It appears as though AMD is planning to release the Phenom 20550 and 20350 at 3.0 and 2.8 GHZ respectively with a DDR2 memory controller and will be backwards compatible with socket AM2+. This will give users of the previous platform another upgrade path before being forced to replace both motherboard and RAM. Both processors are expected to make a Q4 2008 release but have yet to be confirmed by AMD. All other upcoming processors will likely require DDR3 memory and the new socket AM3.
Holy high core-count Batman, just imagine how many Chrome tabs you could have open with a 36-core Nehalem! But before you get too excited, this isn't some secret project Intel has been working on. The feat comes courtesy of Tilera, a small start-up from 2004 and self-proclaimed "industry leader in highly scalable multi-core embedded processor design." And with a 36-core chip, who's to argue?
This isn't even Tilera's highest cored processor, as the company introduced a 64-core CPU last year. This time around, the scaled down TilePro36 is being marketed as a midrange part suitable for devices like high-end video conferencing, according to Bob Doud, Tilera's director of marketing.
Intel and AMD needn't be worried though, as the Tilera doesn't target servers and home PCs, as the architecture would get summarily thumped by today's fastest chips. But for its targeted applications, the tiled RISC processing core puts out a bit of pep when configured in a distributed network, and the new 36-core version only sips between 10 to 16 watts.
Back in June, we reported Intel's dual-core Atom processor had been postponed until September, and since that time, the company's single-core variant has enjoyed widespread success in the nettop world. Demand has been so high that there was speculation of an Atom chip shortage, ultimately prompting a response from Intel.
September has arrived, and as predicted, Intel has now officially begun shipping its 45nm dual-core Atom processor. Intel says the Atom 330 has been designed specifically for nettops. The new chip cranks out 1.6GHz per core supplemented by a very modest 1MB of L2 cache. The 8W TDP chip supports DDR2-667 and is being made available as an integrated package validated with Intel's 945GC Express Chipset.
Is this the chip you've been waiting for before picking up an ultraportable?
More price cuts are on the horizon from Intel, with some processors soon to reach their end of life (EOL), say motherboard makers. As DigiTimes reports it, Intel will announce product discontinuance notices (PDNs) for the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 and QX9650 in the first quarter of 2009. PDNs will also be sent out for four quad-core chips, one of which is the Q9450 and ten dual-core CPUs, including the E8300.
Specific numbers haven't been released, but come October 19, Intel is expected to cut the price of the Core 2 Quad Q8200 and Q6600, Core 2 Duo 7300, and Pentium E2220 and E2220 CPUs. Around the same time the chip maker will launch its Core 2 Duo E7400.
In November, look for Intel to release a Core 2 Quad Q8300 clocked at 2.5GHz, Pentium E5300 clocked at 2.6GHz, and a dual-core Celeron E1500 at 2.2GHz. Prices in thousand-unit quantities will sit at $224, $86, and $53 respectively.
And finally, on January 18, 2009, Intel plans to launch the Core 2 Duo E7500 (2.93GHz, $133) and will make the following price cuts:
Core 2 Quad Q8200 from $193 to $183
Core 2 Duo E7400 from $133 to $113
Pentium E5200 from $84 to $76
Pentium E2200 from $84 to $64
Celeron E1400 from $54 to $43
Keep in mind that none of this is official, with Intel declining to comment on the price cuts and product launches.
In case you missed it, Intel earlier this week officially released its Dunnington-based 7400 server CPUs. Dunnington has garnered attention in the press for being a six-core processor, and also for being the first Intel chip to sport a monolithic design, meaning all six cores come on a single die. Dunnington's predecessor, the 7300 series Tigerton, was a quad-core processor two dual-core chips wedged onto a single slice of silicon.
But Dunnington is no big deal, according to AMD. Jon Fruehe, worldwide market development manager for the rival chip maker, dubbed Dunnington as nothing more than a "benchmark chip" and a "placeholder" until Intel can move away from an external memory controller.
Fruehe also huffed at Intel having the first six-core CPU, saying it's just a glued together triple-dual core processor with 50 percent more cores than the quad-core and costing 50 percent more, but only offering 30 percent more performance. He also pooh-poohed the 130W TDP rating (early reports indicate first run Core i7 processors will also be rated at 130W), and downplayed Tigerton's success, saying market share gains can be attributed to AMD being late with Barcelona.
Is Fruehe's criticism of Intel's Dunnington architecture valid, or did someone just take a whiz in his Wheaties?