SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Targeting tablets, Advanced Micro Devices added two ultra low power processors to the road map it revealed at its annual meeting with financial analysts here. It also showed an ultrabook design that could undercut prices of Intel-based systems based on its 32 nm Trinity notebook chip now shipping to OEMs.
AMD will roll out this year Hondo, a 40 nm processor for tablets and follow up with Temash, a 28 nm chip in 2013 that integrates a south bridge. Temash is one of the first examples of a new corporate focus on SoCs for hot markets rather than brawny CPUs built in the latest process technology, AMD’s new line up of executives said.
“We don’t want to be on bleeding edge of technology, leading with our chin and not deliver--that breaks trust,” said Rory Read, who joined AMD five months ago as chief executive.
“We’ve been pulled along by the gravitational force of this unhealthy [x86] duopoly,” said Read. “I came to AMD because we see an inflection point coming now where price points will shift and we can deliver architectures that play to our hand,” he said.
The tablet CPUs should be no surprise. Read’s predecessor, Dirk Meyer, lost his position as CEO when the board decided, among other things, he was moving too slowly into the new mobile market.
In a high octane talk, Read said the new AMD will be about building trust around execution. Products will be built in an upgraded SoC design methodology now in the works under new chief technology officer Mark Papermaster.
Lisa Su--who like Read and Papermaster spent significant time at IBM--has the responsibility of defining those products. Her job, Read said, is not to leapfrog what’s on Intel’s road map but respond to demands from OEMs.
That said, one of the highlights of the event was an ultrabook reference design made by Taiwan’s Compal. The system packs AMD’s Trinity chip into an 18mm-thick case and could sell for as little as $599, potentially undercutting Intel Ivy Bridge ultrabooks by a hundred dollars or more.
Lisa Su with Compal-made Trinity notebook.
Trinity provides about 20 percent more CPU and 30 percent more GPU performance than Llano, AMD’s first processor to merge x86 and GPU die. AMD sold about 10 million Llano chips last year, in part constrained by a now-solved hiccup in GlobalFoundries’ fab.
So far, Trinity design wins are “tracking at a higher rate” than Llano did in 2011, said Su. The chip will come in three packages including a low cost BGA, and it supports simultaneous links to two displays, a new feature for notebook CPUs.
A closer look at the 18mm-thin Trinity reference design.