Richi Jennings

Those AMD 65nm rumors were true (and WoW noob)

December 06, 2006 5:54 AM EST
Welcome back to IT Blogwatch, in which AMD launches its 65nm CPUs. Not to mention the thoughts of a newbie to World of Warcraft...

Ben Ames reports:
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. began selling its top chip for desktop PCs made with a 65-nanometer design today, continuing its efforts to keep up with Intel Corp. as the industry migrates from 90nm design to a faster, more efficient generation of processors. By manufacturing its dual-core Athlon 64 X2 chip on the smaller geometry, AMD will be able to increase manufacturing output while improving the chip's performance and power efficiency ... Some PC vendors are already selling the new chip in computers. By the first quarter of 2007 that list will include Acer Inc., Dell Inc., Founder Electronics Co., Hewlett-Packard Co., Packard Bell BV and Tsinghua Tongfang Co.
...
This was a rough year for Intel, which lost ground to AMD in market share, but it has rallied in recent months. The company launched its Core 2 Duo family of desktop chips in July and its quad-core Core 2 Extreme in November. Intel switched its chip manufacturing plants to a smaller architecture months ago, and already sells more 65nm chips than 90nm chips.
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AMD chose to apply the new "Rev G" 65nm design to its high-end, dual-core desktop chip first because the company's midrange, single-core Athlon and Sempron chips are already fairly efficient, running at 62 watts using a 90nm design ... The Athlon 64 X2 operated at a high 110 watts when it was first launched in June 2005, but this migration will bring it down to just 65 watts ... AMD will continue to produce both 90nm and 65nm Athlon 64 X2 chips until it phases the larger-design chips out completely by the second half of 2007. Next, AMD plans to apply the 65nm design to its single-core Athlon and Sempron chips, shrinking them by the end of 2007.
Mike Magee (perhaps) adds:
AMD is launching its very delayed 65 nanometre products today ... It looks like AMD is going to "shrink the die" from the 183 [sq. mm] or so they are at now for the 512K cache parts to somewhere around the 12x [sq. mm] mark. Also ... the number of good chips they get off a 65 nanometre wafer exceeds that of a 90 nanometre wafer ... Basically, this means capacity is going up, and it will ease shortage problems or it will mean overcapacity, depending a lot on what the market does. In any case, as things ramp, capacity may increase notably.
Mark Hachman explains:
Shifting to a finer manufacturing process means less power and waste heat is needed to run at a given speed. In desktops, that means that the chip can be clocked faster while still maintaining the given power; in notebooks, the overall power consumption can be reduced while still maintaining a given speed. AMD's energy-efficient chips split that difference, offering power savings and a quieter desktop PC environment.
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AMD's sales team is also attempting to convince customers that even its older "Rev. F" 65-watt, 90nm chips actually consume less power than Intel's Core 2 Duo components ... Modern desktop and notebook processors constantly scale up and down between full speed and an idle state, which AMD has branded "Cool 'n' Quiet". At a given time, pushed to full load by an application, AMD's chips run hotter and consume more power. But across a typical computing day -- where a user might check his email or surf the Web -- the processor idles more often then not. At idle, AMD's 90nm Athlon 64 X2 consumes 7.5 watts. Its latest 65nm chips idle at 3.8 watts. By comparison, the 65nm Core 2 Duo idles at 14.3 watts.
Brett Thomas:
The move to 65nm is a big step forward for AMD, which has been behind Intel in die size since the Presler core (late Pentium 4). Presler was the first 65nm process, and was released right at the end of 2005. Of course, Presler really failed to show off what 65nm could do, as it was neither cool-running nor low-power. The entire Core 2 line is also 65nm, though, and seems to have fixed many of those mistakes.

Despite Core 2's power, AMD's new X2 lineup could be a new standard on the price/performance ratio if history is anything to go by. Though the chips are not going to take the performance crown from Conroe, they have already been released as low power consumption - the move to 65nm should only help to further that. We'll let you know as soon as we get a couple of our own tests done, of course.
joshetc:
Extremely nice. Most people dont account for the integrated memory controller reducing the power consumption of the northbridge either. As a whole Turion notebooks should be extremely power stingy.
Tumbleweed:
Once Intel puts the memory controller on-die like AMD has, it's going to really hurt AMD. HyperTransport doesn't seem to have any advantage at all on the desktop, so AMD's only real tech advantage right now is that on-die mem controller. Perhaps once we all have 8+ core chips on our desktops, you might see some HT advantages, but I believe I read somewhere that Intel has plans for on-die memory controllers and an answer to HT in the wings for 2008, though obviously that's just rumour at this point.
Buffer overflow:
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Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richi.co.uk.