AMD Outlines Road Map, Dives Deeper Into Low Power

AMD executives, speaking at a briefing for financial analysts at the company's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters, said two design teams currently are working on reducing CPU power consumption, which in turn allows systems makers to develop smaller mobile devices with longer battery life.

"One of those [teams] will be focused on the 7-watt to 25-watt area," said Dirk Meyer, executive vide president of AMD's computational products group. "Another one will be focused on a power regime that is currently unoccupied by anybody and that is the less-than-5-watt space."

Meyer said the developing devices that use less than 5 watts of power is an area that has yet to be exploited.

"Here you see a form factor that we will introduce in 2006 that will open up a large number of opportunities that can't be realized by today's x86 technology, ranging from handheld computers to who knows what," Meyer said.

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Also on the mobile road map is a dual-core notebook in 2005 and notebooks that use DDR2 memory in 2006.

Meanwhile, AMD reiterated its commitment to release dual-core Athlons by mid-2005. AMD CTO Fred Webber said the processor will operate in the 90-watt power envelope so that they will draw power that is consistent with multi-processor Opteron servers. Pricing for the dual-core products was not provided, but AMD executives expect to release that information by the first quarter.

By 2006, Webber said, AMD will release Opterons with virus protection, code-named Presidio, and optimization for virtualization technologies, code-name Pacifica.

As with its mobile products, AMD will be focusing on power management as server processors continue to increase in power. In the next few years, AMD plans to use technology that controls individual memory chips so that power is used only for memory tasks that are needed at a given point in time.

Hector Ruiz, AMD's chairman, CEO and president, said top-tier systems makers next year will release at least 30 AMD-based server models, including a number of blade servers, an area where AMD has traditionally shown weakness.

Ruiz pointed out that AMD has seen a reversal of fortunes over the past year, noting that AMD has seen four consecutive quarters of profits.

Earlier this month, AMD reported a third-quarter profit of $43.8 million, or 12 cents per share, up significantly from a loss of $31.2 million, or 9 cents per share, for the same quarter in 2003.

At the same time, AMD said sales in the fourth quarter will rise based on expectations of better-than-usual sales of CPUs.