AMD Answers Intel’s Atom with ‘Conesus’

Posted: November 17, 2008 in Computer Related, Tweaks
Tags: , , , , ,

AMD dramatically updated its desktop roadmap at its Thursday analyst meeting, revealing a top-to-bottom approach to address the market from ultraportables and netbooks to high-end entertainment PCs. Included in the update was the company’s answer to Intel’s Atom processor.

AMD plans six platforms: “Yukon”, for the netbook market, due in the first half of 2009; “Tigris” for the mainstream notebook, due in the second half of 2009; “Kodiak” for business desktops, scheduled to be released at the same time; and “Pisces”, a similar stratregy for consumer desktops, also planned for the second half of 2009.

In the near term, however, is “Maui”, due this quarter for home theater PCs, and “Dragon” for the entertainment PC category, which will be released in the first quarter of 2009.

AMD also added six new cores to its processor roadmap, extending it into 2009.

For mini-notebook and netbook enthusiasts, the key additions are “Caspian” and “Conesus”, both 45-nm cores apparently built on the same architecture as the “Shanghai” processor AMD introduced on Thursday and its desktop counterpart, Deneb, which will be launched early in 2009, at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, according to a leaked roadmap.

That roadmap did not identify either Caspian or Conesus by name; speculation had been that the two would be based on the Geode processor. Randy Allen, the senior vice president of AMD’s Computation Solutions Group who identified the new cores here, did not specify whether the two new chips are indeed Geodes.

In any event, both cores mean that AMD now has an answer to the Intel Atom processor that AMD’s chief rival has used to power netbooks. Caspian and Conesus will be dual-core parts, each with an integrated DDR-2 controller. Caspian, the processor designed for ultraportable notebooks, will contain 2 Mbytes of cache; Conesus will contain just one. Conesus will also be manufactured using a BGA package, allowing it to fit within the cramped confines of netbooks.

However, the new chips aren’t specifically designed for netbooks. AMD chief executive Dirk Meyer said that since AMD had been unable to assess the total available netbook market so AMD wasn’t directly addressing it for now. “First order, we’re ignoring the netbook phenomenon, concentrating on PC notebooks above that form factor,” Meyer said.

Allen offered further clarification, stating that AMD will cede part of the netbook market to Intel, including so-called Mobile Internet Devices. Customers of the Yukon netbook market don’t want a “compromised PC experience,” Allen said. “We will deliver a full-fledged PC experience,” Allen said. “We won’t be going to the bottom where Atom is going, it won’t be to the lowest [thermal design power] where Atom is going.”

AMD’s 2009 desktop roadmap remains largely unchanged: on the high end of the desktop lies “Deneb”, a four core chip with 8MB of cache, accessing either DDR-2 or DDR-3. The mainstream desktop will be built on “Propos”, a quad-core chip with 2MB of cache, also connecting to either DDR-2 or DDR-3.

In 2010, Caspian will be replaced with “Champlain”, which will move the ultraportable notebook category into quad-core territory. Consesus, meanwhile, will be replaced with “Geneva”, still a dual-core part. Champlain will contain four cores, connect to DDR-3 memory, and include 2MB of cache. Geneva, also a BGA-based chip, will contain just two cores, but will be otherwise identical to Champlain, the roadmap indicates.

AMD also extended its roadmap into 2011, farther than the chipmaker has previously gone before. At that time, netbooks will be anchored around the “Ontario” processor, a dual-core, BGA-packaged chip that will be AMD’s first to integrate graphics functionality. Ontario will contain 1MB of cache and connect to DDR-3 memory.

At present, the 2011 roadmap also calls for notebooks and desktops to be served by a single processor: Liano, a four-core part that also contains a GPU. Sporting four cores and a 4-MB L3 cache, it too will connect to DDR-3 memory.

AMD also removed “Shrike” from the roadmap, previously the first of the so-called “Fusion” processors combining CPU and graphics capability. Allen explained that Shrike offered just modest improvements, while Liano promised “huge” improvements.

On top of AMD’s roadmap in 2011 will be “Orochi”, adding more than four cores and more than 8MB of cache. Further details were not disclosed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s