AMD Continues Shift Away From Megahertz Race - InformationWeek

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Hardware & Infrastructure

AMD Continues Shift Away From Megahertz Race

The chipmaker says it will use a "performance-power rating" to name its processors, resulting in names that have higher numbers than the clock rating expressed in megahertz.

In the latest step away from the megahertz race, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. personal connectivity solutions group said it will use a "performance-power rating" to name its embedded processors. The result: Processor names which have higher numbers than the clock rating expressed in megahertz.

The chipmaker said Monday that it has it contracted with an Austin, Texas, benchmarking services company to deliver a broader range of performance metrics than pure megahertz. The benchmarks were developed by Synchromesh Computing Inc. to measure the arithmetic, floating point, and graphics processors, as well performance contributions from instructions dedicated to media processing, cache size, the internal bus, and other elements that affect overall performance.

Last year, AMD purchased the Geode line of embedded x86 CPUs from National Semiconductor Corp. The Geode GX processor was renamed the AMD Geode GX [email protected] It has a clock rate of 400 MHz. There are two slower members of the GX line as well, which consume less power.

AMD also introduced two Athlon-based embedded processors, using the NX nomenclature to distinguish them from the GX line. An embedded Athlon running at 1 GHz is called the AMD Geode NX [email protected] A faster product consumes 14 watts. The NX processors include a front side bus running at 266 MHz, while the GX chips do not have a front side bus.

Two years ago, AMD made a similar move for its PC processors, introducing the transactions per instruction nomenclature. Recently, Intel also said it will no longer rely strictly on megahertz to indicate the overall performance of its products.

Erik Salo, director of marketing, said the NX MPUs are superscalar Athlons, running at 1 volt, based on a modified process to reduce leakage current and overall power consumption.

Salo said customers may use the Syncromesh benchmark suite to compare the AMD x86-based embedded processors with competing products from Intel, Transmeta, and the Centaur division of Via Technologies. "We want our customers to be able to reproduce our results," Salo said. Most of the benchmarks can be downloaded for free from the AMD Web site, he added.

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