San Francisco (CA) - At the moment, AMD GPG (former ATI Technologies) could be considered as the only division in AMD that is firing on all cylinders. The 7-series chipsets, the mobile Puma platform, XGP and the Radeon 4800 series are all fantastic products. The CPU division had less luck with its recent products, especially if you think about the underestimated competitive threat from Intel, the catastrophic Barcelona B2 revision and a 45 nm architecture that is about to miss its initial launch target. But things are changing and the company may be able to compete with Intel sooner than some may think.
Industry sources told us that AMD is making progress on several fronts that are believed to make the company more nimble and effective against its blue rival. On the corporate side, we are hearing chatter about internal restructuring currently taking place so that launches of processors correspond to launches of chipsets and graphics processors. While the launch of the Spider platform launch got buried under the TLB disaster, AMD thinks it now has a better understanding of the needs of individual markets - at least that is what our sources told us.
On the product side, AMD wants to regain influence in the enthusiast market with affordable, but highly overclockable processors - such as the upcoming Phenom 9950. AMD is apparently shooting for a 12,000 CPU score in 3DMark Vantage. However, we were not able to get any specifics about the overclock required to hit this point. Since current Phenoms are checking in at less than 10,000 scores, we would expect a 20% higher clock rate.
However, looking at AMD’s more and more marketed "balanced platform" approach and the continuing advance of GPUs in everyday computing should put AMD into a much improved market position soon.
AMD’s team in Austin managed to use two R700 dual-GPU graphic cards (four RV770 chips) to get a score of X12515. This was done with four GPUs, while Nvidia uses three GTX280 boards to achieve a similar score. The R700 boards were clocked at 778 MHz, while the GDDR5 memory was clocked at 980 MHz QDR (that’s 3920 "MHz", or just 3.92 GigaTransfers/sec), we were told. This brought the total on-board video bandwidth to an impressive 250.8 GB/s.
R700 boards are planned for introduction within the next seven weeks and if we trust our sources, then we should expect the Phenom 9950 in a similar timeframe. The 790GX chipset will ship with two new Southbridge chips - the SB700 and SB750 will also arrive in time for these new products. So, we are taking note: AMD will have an overclockable graphics card, an overclockable processor and an overclocker-friendly chipset.
Is AMD on back on track? We think so.