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AMD Pushes Multicore, Mobile Plans

AMD aims to move beyond dual-core processors to four or more CPUs on a single chip, and plans to field mobile chips that can keep notebook-computer batteries running for seven hours.
At a forum before financial analysts in New York on Friday, AMD emphasized its intention to move beyond dual-core processors to four or more CPUs on a single chip within two years, as well as its plan to field mobile chips that can keep notebook-computer batteries running for seven hours.

"We're going to be adding faster dual-core processors," said Marty Seyer, the general manager of AMD's microprocessor business unit. "The architecture is evolving over time with greater features and greater scalability. In 2006, we'll add virtualization and security to the processor roadmap. We'll also introduce [support for] the next generation of memory.

After 2006, Seyer said AMD will begin moving beyond two CPUs on a single semiconductor die and start to field chips with four or more cores. "We'll add multicore," Seyer said. "We'll be able to scale to 16 cores. We'll [also] increase the size of cache and I/O performance."

In the mobile arena, Seyer indicated his intention to emphasize processor efficiency, in a bid to boost the battery life of notebook computers made with AMD chips. Seyer pointed to AMD's Turion 64, a 64-bit processor introduced this past January as a single-core device.

"We are investing quite heavily in mobile," Seyer said. "In January we introduced [our] Turion 64 processor. We have 40 design wins for Turion. We're going to evolve that CPU core over time. We're going to improve the power efficiency, [and] we're going to add the next generation of memory."

"We're heading to 4-hour of battery life this year," Seyer said. "In 2006, we will increase that to five hours, and then in 2007 to six hours and beyond."

Seyer also emphasized AMD's commitment to offering a choice of mobile parts to the original equipment manufacturers, which use its processors. That's currently the case, since AMD also offers mobile versions of its Athlon and Athlon 64 processors, along with the Turion 64.

During Friday's meeting, AMD went out of its way to emphasis its manufacturing prowess. That's likely a nod toward critics who sometimes compare AMD to Intel, a far larger company with more fabs. As demand for AMD's popular 64-bit parts have grown, the company has sought to address concerns that it can meet increased demand.

"I think we have a good plan that allows us to respond to upsides very quickly," said Daryl Ostrander, AMD's vice president of manufacturing.

"The manufacturing strategy that we have put in place is going to give us the ability to manage capacity," said AMD chairman Hector Ruiz. Ostrander added that AMD's new "Fab 36" manufacturing facility in Dresden, Germany, is currently on track to come on line, alongside the company's existing Fab 30 plant. As well, AMD is moving its processors to advanced, 65-nm fabrication technology, in a transition set to begin in 2006. "Everything we're doing is focused on 65 nm," Ostrander said.

Ruiz also sought to emphasize AMD's transformation from a microprocessor company that's often played second fiddle to Intel, into a technological leader in 64-bit computing.

"We believe we are leading the industry in the conversion to 64-bit computing," said Ruiz. "We are sharpening our focus intensely. That means we are now a microprocessor company. Going forward, that is the heart of the company."

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