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The ‘Bangalore’ in Shanghai! But AMD still has lots of questions to answer!!

November 13, 2008

Welcome Shanghai, AMD’s latest 45nm quad-core Opteron processor! It was launched with great fanfare in Bangalore today. However, lots of other questions remain unanswered. It is hoped that some answers will come out of AMD’s 2008 Financial Analyst Day, which starts later today, in the US. More of those questions later!

First, the chip maker focused on three key points: virtualization performance; delivering up to 35 percent more performance and up to 35 percent decrease in power consumption at idle; and up to 21 percent CPU power savings.

Shanghai is packed with a lot of virtualization features, evidently aimed at the enterprise segment. It allows faster switching between virtual machines. Among other features, Shanghai allows live migration, which was also demonstrated at the launch,
and the cache has been doubled to 8MB. As per the AMD spokespersons, the Shanghai platform already boasts of over 25 ready platforms and more platforms will be announced by its customers in the coming months. It is said that with the Shanghai, AMD is well positioned in the 2P market.

The 45nm quad-core AMD Opteron processors build on AMD’s legacy as the virtualization platform of choice, with the new processor already powering nine global OEM servers specifically designed for virtualization. The processors deliver faster ‘world switch’ time, which enhances virtual machine efficiency, and feature improved Rapid Virtualization Indexing, AMD’s innovation in AMD-V that reduces the overhead associated with software virtualization.

On the energy efficiency side, AMD’s Smart Fetch technology reduces power consumption by allowing cores to enter a ‘halt’ state during processing idle times with zero impact on application performance and compliments AMD’s CoolCore technology, which reduces power on unused sections of each processor to further reduce power consumption. Shanghai supports DDR2, and not DDR3, for now!

The ‘Bangalore’ in ‘Shanghai’
You can see Karthik Muttuswamy, Silicon Design Head, AMD India, Bangalore, along with others, holding the wafer in the picture above. Karthik’s team was involved in all aspects of Shanghai, from architecture to tapeout. Shanghai was developed across Centers of Excellence in the United States and India. The US/India teams delivered key sections of the chip. AMD India’s Bangalore team put them all together to create the complete design.

It is a matter of really great pride that India is playing a decisive role in driving the roadmap for the next generation processors and has contributed tremendously to the latest 45nm server processors, he said.

Lots of unanswered questions for AMD!
Well, AMD surely has managed to bring Shanghai faster to the market than expected. It is said to be the only X86 MPU spanning the 2P, 4P and 8P server segment. So far so good! There are lots of questions that AMD has to answer! (Oh, I did ask three of these questions!)

Now, where is that Atom killer? Where is AMD’s strategy in the netbooks and mobile Internet devices spaces (MIDs)? Don’t tell those aren’t important for them, with rival Intel going for broke in that segment! Where is AMD’s strategy, then, for OEMs to push its technologies into much smaller form factors?

What about Abu Dhabi-based Advanced Technology Investment Co. and The Foundry Company? How will this deal proceed given AMD’s cross-licensing agreement with Intel? Or, how will the foundry compete against the likes of TSMCs of this world? Will the Shanghai bring about a brilliant or much better Q4 for AMD? What’s the projection like? And well, how will the Shanghai strengthen AMD’s position in the MPU segment? How will AMD fare in the global semiconductor industry next year?

I also thought that AMD would probably touch upon embedded computing, but well, nothing of that sort, as this was a Shanghai launch. Maybe, that’ll come later!

It is hoped that a lot of answers to these questions, and much more, will come out at the Financial Analyst Day later today.

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