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AMD In 2013 And New Server Plans

The company’s plans for next year are, perhaps more telling of its new direction. In 2012, AMD’s products are coming from multiple fabs employing three different nodes: 40, 32, and 28 nm. The following year, everything is at 28 nm. Chasing down the latest process (and assuming the associated risks, which sometimes result in delays) will no longer be a priority.

Instead, the emphasis is going to be on integration. To be frank, integration as a concept isn't a revolutionary idea from AMD or any other semiconductor vendor. It’s the same direction AMD’s competition is going, enabled in large part by more advanced manufacturing. Besides, remember that AMD was the company that shocked enthusiasts by putting a memory controller on its CPU die, propelling the Athlon 64 out in front of Intel’s Pentium 4. We've seen integration in action over many, many years. The difference moving forward will be an focus on the reuse of core IP, allowing AMD to put its technologies (and technologies from third parties, even) into a great range of devices more quickly.

That’s not to take away from what AMD has planned. The pursuit of integration will see AMD incorporate what is currently called the Fusion Controller Hub into its APUs, creating single-chip platforms. This is a significant development because it allows certain power and layout advantages, particularly in space-constrained form factors where typical two- or three-chip PC platforms cannot go.

Trinity will be replaced by Kaveri, which incorporates AMD’s Steamroller architecture (the second generation-evolution after Bulldozer, which AMD has already told us will incorporate notable IPC- and power consumption-oriented improvements). As with today’s APUs, those based on Kaveri should sport two or four cores. Further, AMD plans to replace its older VLIW4 architecture with Graphics Core Next, giving those upcoming APUs significant advantages in general-purpose compute applications optimized for its Heterogeneous Systems Architecture.

Oh, that’s right. It’s dropping the Fusion brand in favor of HSA. That name is making its debut today, too. The Sea Islands discrete graphics family, Kaveri APU, and Kabini APU will all include specific HSA-oriented feature that, first, allow the GPU to access CPU memory and then unify CPU and GPU memory.

The Kabini platform is expected to replace Brazos 2.0, leveraging improvements to the low-power Bobcat architecture aptly called Jaguar. It, too, gives up the VLIW4 design found in Radeon HD 6900-series graphics cards in favor of GCN.

Hondo will give way to Temash in the ultra-low power space, and that should also feature the x86-based Jaguar architecture. While Kaveri and Kabini both make appearances in AMD’s desktop and mobile roadmaps as two- and four-core configurations, Tamesh is a mobile-only concept that’ll employ two cores.

Staying Competitive In Servers

In talking with AMD’s John Fruehe, director of product marketing for AMD’s server/workstation products, it was mentioned that company plans to tackle the cloud infrastructure most specifically. Asked what it meant to target the cloud with a processor, John talked about AMD’s ability to set custom TDPs to fine-tune power consumption to maximize performance in any given power budget.

Now, I’ve never heard Intel use the term configurable TDP before, but I do know the company’s Intelligent Power Node Manager software is supposed to do something very similar, capping power consumption on a per-server basis to granularly control peak power use. How AMD plans to use this functionality in a unique way remains to be seen—though there’s no question it’s an important step forward in giving IT managers control over quickly-growing data centers with finite power.

Also interesting is that the Terramar and Sepang designs, planned to include 10 and five Bulldozer modules, respectively, were canceled. AMD says that its upcoming Piledriver architecture revision is effective enough to give it the performance it wanted from those 20- and 10-core configurations using one less Bulldozer module per die. As a result, Abu Dhabi and Seoul stand in as replacements. AMD won’t really say whether or not Terramar and Sepang would have required a new interface to accommodate their more complex layouts. However, it’s happy to assure us that Abu Dhabi and Seoul will drop into the Socket G34 and Socket C32 interfaces once they’re ready.

And with that, I’m off to Sunnyvale. Fifteen minutes turned into two hours. Looks like I’ll need to engage the afterburners up California’s I-5.

  • We need a speed chart using GPS of your driving speeds on I5 please and fuel efficiency all the way to sunnyvale.
  • wiyosaya
    2nd Gen FX in 2012, but when? After the BD fiasco, I am thinking of doing an Intel build, specifically i5-2550k, - something that I have not done in years. I am not so sure that I want to wait for 2nd Gen FX, especially if it remains something less than a value buy.
  • ScrewySqrl
    I'll quote this week's sub-$200 cpu article: "we're almost-shockingly left without an AMD CPU to recommend at any price point." Intel is the only game in town in gaming. APUs won't change that
  • josejones
    So, when will AMD motherboards and AMD's CPU's etc support PCIe 3.0 ?
  • g4114rd0
    The Ostrich Technique or APU momentum, clever when they understand the messages.
  • peevee
    New products on 40nm in 2012? While Intel releases theirs on 22 nm? Translating to 4 times cheaper transistors? How AMD is going to compete? And look at the 2013 Client Roadmap - "Steamroller" (supposedly 2nd gen after BD) cores are BELOW "Piledriver" - are they going to decrease IPC again?
  • esrever
    nope chuck testa.
  • ltdementhial
    peeveeNew products on 40nm in 2012? While Intel releases theirs on 22 nm? Translating to 4 times cheaper transistors? How AMD is going to compete? And look at the 2013 Client Roadmap - "Steamroller" (supposedly 2nd gen after BD) cores are BELOW "Piledriver" - are they going to decrease IPC again?

    You're wrong sir, until this day AMD/Nvidia release the lower end products on a old and cheaper plataform as 40nm. maybe you get it wrong and think the APU's are going to be 40nm manofactured...well no the GPU inside the APU is 40nm the CPU is 32 nm...maybe you want an 28nm gpu (southern islands) in a 22nm cpu (intel i don't know what) but that would be non profit as is a new technologie i doesnt come cheap at all, not just for AMD but for any other company willing to make some bucks (insert Intel, ARM, Nvidia or your favorite company here.) in a few years when the x nm process comes out theres going to be people like you sayin... "New" 22nm producs in 202x while X Company is realasing their X nm process?

    Oh and by the way...not every nm process/Die/construction is the same at all every company has their own...i dont the exact difference but let say Intel 32nm (CMOS i think)= AMD 45nm SOI = ARM 120nm.
  • salgado18
    It all looks good, except for two things I just can't understand:

    - why are they thinking of keeping 4 cores in 2013, when they advocate paralelism? Isn't what they built Bulldozer for?

    - why on Earth would they not make FX based on Steamroller? It should be ready, why keep FX outdated against competition when all they need is put the damn things on a chip?
  • pjmelect
    So according to AMD the Piledrive CPU is 25% faster than the Bulldozer CPU is that enough to compete against Intel's new forthcoming chips?