AMD plans to introduce their first quad-core mobile processor in 2010. Codenamed “Champlain”, the chip will feature 2MB of cache and DDR3 memory support. AMD designates Champlain as S1G3, implying that the core is basically a quad-core derivative of Caspian, only with four cores instead of two and a DDR3 memory controller. Accompanying Champlain is AMD’s Danube platform, although nothing specific is mentioned about this chipset.
Also due in 2010 is Geneva. Geneva is a dual-core, lower power part with 2MB of cache and DDR3.
As we mentioned on the previous page, we’ll see the first APUs from AMD in 2011, a delay of roughly two years from AMD’s original plans due to their decision to wait for 32-nm before producing a CPU-GPU part. AMD actually expects to begin producing 32-nm parts in 2010, although the process won’t be ready for mass production until 2011. If the first 32-nm samples look good in 2010, it’s conceivable that Llano and Ontario could be introduced in the first half of 2011, although AMD wouldn’t provide anything specific here.
AMD’s desktop plans
Earlier this morning AMD revealed the brand name for their first 45-nm desktop CPUs based on their Deneb core, Phenom II. This afternoon AMD revealed one new nugget of info about Phenom II – it’s launching in early January at CES in Las Vegas alongside AMD’s Dragon platform.
Phenom II will ship with 8MB of cache and will initially support DDR2 memory and AMD’s AM2+ socket. The CPU is also rumored to launch at clock speeds as high as 3.0GHz. (Newer reports have also suggested that Phenom II will scale much better than Phenom when it comes to overclocking.) Later in 2009 the processor will transition to AMD’s AM3 socket with support for DDR3 memory.
This brings us to Dragon, AMD’s new platform for Phenom II. Apparently Dragon doesn’t refer to AMD’s next-generation RD890 chipset, but 700-series chipsets with AMD’s new SB750 South Bridge. RD890 may not appear until well into 2009, perhaps as late as the second half of next year.
For the mainstream desktop CPU segment AMD plans to offer Propos. Propos is a quad-core part with just 2MB of total cache.
According to AMD’s latest roadmap, both Deneb and Propos will serve as AMD’s primary desktop CPUs for 2009 and 2010. In our opinion this is an awfully conservative move on AMD’s part, particularly for 2010. Over that same time frame Intel is slated to offer Westmere (their 32-nm Nehalem refresh part) and Sandy Bridge, which is Intel’s next-generation CPU architecture beyond Nehalem. To put things in perspective, Deneb is expected to bring AMD on par with Intel’s Penryn processors when it comes to performance, so by the time AMD’s next-generation desktop core is ready in 2011, Intel could be two generations beyond them.
Bulldozer, now codenamed “Orochi”, could be a powerful processor when it arrives in 2011 though. AMD plans to outfit the processor with more than four cores and more than 8MB of cache. Little is known beyond that, although we do know it will utilize AMD’s 32-nm manufacturing process.
Combining a new manufacturing process with a new microarchitecture could be tricky for AMD. Both AMD and Intel have learned the hard way how difficult it can be pulling off a new architecture alone, and they’ve both also had their fair share of difficulties with rolling out a new manufacturing process, so if AMD can pull both off simultaneously with Orochi it would be quite a coup for the company. Our guess is Orochi must have some type of game-changing feature that needs 32-nm for it to be worth the risk for AMD to combine both in one processor.
If you’re a hardcore AMD enthusiast holding out for the return of the FX line and AMD’s CPU supremacy, chances are you’re going to be waiting quite a while. 2011 at the very earliest. AMD has repeatedly stated that Deneb is not a performance competitor with Intel’s latest Nehalem processors, instead it’s geared against Intel’s latest quad-core Core 2 CPUs.
That’s fine for the next 9-10 months for AMD, after all Nehalem (Core i7) isn’t going to overtake Core 2 until Intel offers more mainstream platforms for it next year, but what is AMD going to do when Deneb is going up against Westmere roughly a year from now? What’s going to happen in 2010? Does AMD really expect Deneb to hold its own against Intel for two full years if they’re already acknowledging they’re behind Intel’s best 2008 processor?
What if AMD encounters delays with 32-nm and/or Orochi? Either one of these scenarios could equal major problems for the company.
From our perspective, AMD’s immediate roadmap looks fine. In terms of roadmap execution, AMD shouldn’t have any problems getting by through 2009. It’s 2010 and beyond that worries us. AMD’s best hope is for Intel to delay the introduction of their 32-nm manufacturing process or encounter some type of snag with Westmere or Sandy Bridge. If none of these occur, and Intel continues to execute on their roadmap like clockwork, 2010 could be a very rough year for AMD on the desktop space in our opinion.
On the mobile side, AMD’s refusal to offer a direct competitor to Atom is definitely intriguing. For now, AMD has no plans to offer a CPU with TDPs rivaling Atom. Instead they plan to offer notebook solutions that are slightly more expensive, and certainly more powerful. AMD wouldn’t give any specifics when it comes to price, although when pressed they implied price points starting somewhere in the $500 range with Windows Vista included. Considering that ASUS has multiple Eee PC’s priced above $500, AMD could have a winner if their partners can offer a compelling full-fledged alternative priced in that range. For their part, Intel certainly is walking a tightrope when it comes to Atom. The company enjoys Atom’s sales volume, but on the other hand its low price is hurting their ASPs (average selling price) of their CPU line overall.
With the lack of a single high-end CPU, AMD’s ASPs are already lower than Intel’s. Also remember that the company doesn’t have the engineering resources of Intel, so rather than devote their limited resources on a low-end Atom competitor, they’d much rather devote their engineers to CPUs with higher profit margins.
Considering these last two points, we don’t fault them for approaching the nascent netbook market with a healthy dose of skepticism.
In closing, hopefully AMD has learned from their mistakes of the last year and is able to turn a profit soon. With the divestment of their foundries, the company can now focus 100% on CPU/GPU design. We also hope that AMD has more products planned for 2010 than they’re currently willing to divulge. Over the course of the next year, Nehalem and follow-up parts from Intel will slowly trickle down from the high-end desktop segment to the mainstream desktop and mobile markets. When that occurs, AMD’s going to need more than Deneb and Propus on the desktop, while Intel’s lead in the mobile space could grow despite AMD’s superior graphics solutions.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
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Hear that? It's the sound of the largest computer chip manufacturer in the world churning out new processors to power your gaming rig. This week, Intel is launching their next generation of Core CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge. Like last year's Sandy Bridge chips, they're low-power, quad-core powerhouses that also feature integrated graphics processors. Want to find out more? Maybe check out a whole bunch of performance benchmarks on both the CPU and graphics sides of things? Well you can, in today's review!
Intel Z77 Chipset & DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview
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Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
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