Day One Begins
It’s Wednesday of CES week. The show floor hasn’t opened yet, but "press conference day" is in full swing. I managed to avoid these mass events, but if you want more on what’s happening in the consumer electronics arena, check out the CES coverage at Tom’s Guide.
That’s not to say we weren’t busy. I had an extended session with AMD, talking up everything from CPUs to laptops to graphics. Later, I had lunch with the folks from Zalman. What I thought would just be a brief meeting on CPU coolers became an extended session, venturing into the territories of power supply efficiency and 3D displays, as well as coolers and cases. One of the final events of the day began with a briefing by Patriot Memory, plus a CES launch party hosted by Patriot and Gigabyte. Let’s take a look at what transpired.
Finally, we’ve got a special treat: the first ever public showing of GF100. What exactly is GF100, you ask? Think Nvidia and DirectX 11.
AMD: No Answer To Intel's 32nm CPUs
AMD offered up no fewer than four briefings, though we can’t really say much about two of them. The first briefing was with Bob Grim on AMD's CPU roadmap. The bottom line: AMD really has no counter for Intel on the CPU side in the near term. It’s good that Intel settled with AMD and forked over $1.25 billion, because Intel will probably earn it all back as AMD struggles to compete.
AMD is a competitive company, of course, and isn’t taking the disparity in performance and power efficiency lying down. It has been aggressive on the mobile front, chalking up design wins against Intel’s CULV processors, as can be seen with the most recent announcement of the AMD-exclusive ultra-light Lenovo ThinkPad X100e laptop. But with Intel’s Arrandale launch, the only real ace up AMD’s sleeve is its superior integrated graphics, which the company is pushing hard.
AMD showcased some interesting new laptop initiatives, some of which were still in the proof-of-concept phase. The dual-display ultra-light notebook from Kohjinsha (above), isn’t available in the US. AMD also demonstrated Eyefinity triple display technology running on an Acer netbook-class machine with the aid of a custom external graphics module, but that’s not an actual product just yet.
On the desktop CPU side, there are some interesting products on the roadmap for 2010. Perhaps most exciting for the enthusiast crowd is an offering code-named Thuban, a six-core monster built on Globalfoundries' 45nm manufacturing process. It’s unlikely to be competitive on the performance side against Intel’s upcoming Gulftown-based 32nm CPUs. So, what’s likely to happen is that you’ll be able to get a six-core CPU that won’t be priced out of reach.
All of the CPUs on AMDs 2010 roadmap, though, are extensions of the 45nm manufacturing process it employs today. We won’t see an updated micro-architecture from AMD until the arrival of 2011’s Zambezi and Llano CPUs.