AMD has been under a lot of performance pressure from Intel over the last couple of years. In order to compete, it has had to focus on bringing multiple core CPUs to the market at a lower price than Intel.
The world’s biggest semiconductor company is poised to launch its first Westmere products fairly soon, which integrate 32nm dual core CPUs with 45nm graphics chips on the same package. Intel has traditional been very strong with its CPUs, but weak on the integrated graphics side. AMD, on the other hand, has been able to provide above average graphics performance on its integrated graphics chipsets, at lower prices than Intel-based motherboards.
In order to compete, AMD is going to introduce the RS880P northbridge with faster integrated DirectX 10.1 graphics for the mainstream market early in 2010. Enthusiasts can look forward to the RD890 northbridge, which will use less energy and produce less heat than its predecessor.
AMD will also be introducing the SB800 series of southbridges at the same time, which will integrate a gigabit ethernet port. AMD has missed an opportunity to surpass Intel by integrating USB 3.0 and 6Gb/s SATA ports, but the new southbridges will have more bandwidth. This will make it easier and cheaper for motherboard manufacturers to add USB 3.0 and 6 Gb/s SATA ports themselves without having to resort to bridge chips.
Sources have indicated that there will be motherboards using the new chipsets shown at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas during the first week of January.
Intel will be introducing a 32nm six-core Westmere-based CPU codenamed Gulftown in Q2 of 2010. AMD plans to respond with Thuban, which features six-cores of its own based on those used by the Phenom II family.
Things get interesting in 2011. AMD’s Lynx platform will feature the Llano Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), which integrates up to four 32nm Phenom II cores with a 32nm DirectX 11 graphics chip on the same die.
The Scorius platform will use Zambezi CPUs using four or eight 32nm cores built using the new Bulldozer architecture. It will also be capable of support new 32nm Radeon GPUs.
Both the Scorpius and Lynx platforms will require new chipsets and socket in order to deliver on the promise of higher performance.
The K10 architecture had a few teething problems when it was first introduced by AMD in 2007. It has since proved its usefulness, but Intel has been successful with its Nehalem-based CPUs, dramatically leading the performance race since it was introduced. Bulldozer will be the first new architecture for AMD since the K10, and the company hopes that it will enable it to compete on performance as well as price. It was originally supposed to be introduced this year, but AMD has had to overcome multiple financial, design, and production hurdles over the last few years.
Bulldozer cores will be built on a future 32nm SOI (Silicon-On-Insulator) high-K metal gate process. They will come in desktop and server iterations and feature new instruction set architecture extensions.
Llano and Bulldozer will start sampling with some of AMD’s partners late in 2010, right about the time Intel will introduce its new Sandy Bridge architecture. Even worse for AMD, it will start to introduce products based on the Bulldozer architecture in 2011, just as Intel’s production of new Sandy Bridge ramps up dramatically at the massive Fab 32 and Fab 11X.
Intel is currently undergoing research and develop of new CPUs using 22nm technology, and is set to introduce 22nm parts based on the Ivy Bridge architecture at the end of 2011.
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