Since publishing our CPU Roadmap article
, there have been a few developments in AMD's roadmap that we thought we'd fill you in on. The most important change that will affect typical FS readers is the delay of Palomino (Athlon 4) for the desktop. While desktop Palomino was previously set for release a few months ahead of desktop Morgan early in the second half of this year, AMD's latest roadmap has pushed the release back to coincide with Morgan's desktop release near the middle of the second half of '01. Therefore, instead of a July/August desktop release for Palomino we're now looking at a release in the late September/early October timeframe.
With Intel's 1.8GHz and 1.6GHz Pentium 4 release on Monday and 2GHz planned for launch this quarter, we expect AMD's next desktop release will likely be Thunderbird 1.5GHz (200MHz FSB) and 1.53GHz (266MHz FSB) if they plan to counter Intel's latest (and upcoming) moves. From experience we do know that the Thunderbird core is capable of hitting such speeds, but this is a bit disappointing to hardware enthusiasts nonetheless. Here's a look at the entire roadmap:
AMD's latest processor roadmap
AMD's latest server plans
If you recall AMD's previous roadmap, you'll notice the addition of four new processors in the server segment. In the value space, both Morgan and Appaloosa (0.13-micron die-shrink of Morgan) will have SMP-capable variants. The previous roadmap had both chips available only in the desktop and mobile segments. With the overclocking potential of today's Durons, this paves the way for the next generation of budget SMP systems. (Two years ago the ABIT BP6/dual Celeron 366 (overclocked to 550MHz) combo was all the rage.) Imagine the performance potential of two 1GHz Morgan CPUs running in one of the upcoming 760MPX solutions from such companies as ABIT (WA-2A), ASUS (A7M266-D), Gigabyte (GA-7DPXDW), or MSI (K7D Master-LR). We doubt this solution will grow outside of the consumer space however, especially considering the slow adoption of 760MP among top tier system manufacturers.
On the server side of the performance segment, 1.2GHz Palomino is available now in the form of Athlon MP, and a few months into the first half of 2002 we can expect an MP version of Thoroughbred (0.13-micron die) to debut. Like Morgan and Appaloosa, Thoroughbred was previously listed only in the desktop and mobile segments. With the updated roadmap AMD's provided we essentially now know that all of AMD's upcoming chips will have dual-processor variants (including Barton, the 0.13-micron derivative of Thoroughbred with silicon-on-insulator technology which was previously only listed as a desktop/mobile part). The release date of all 0.13-micron CPUs has remained unchanged, as have the dates for AMD's 8th generation "Hammer" series of CPUs codenamed "ClawHammer" and "SledgeHammer." Despite this, we still have a feeling that Barton's introduction may be used as a stopgap for Hammer's introduction. AMD has employed this strategy today with its AXIA and AYHJA cores on the desktop, which has bought AMD time to tune Palomino's desktop launch.
By doing this, AMD could perfect its 0.13-micron SOI manufacturing process with Barton (as a proving ground of sorts) before introducing Hammer. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised to see SledgeHammer introduced before ClawHammer. Since SledgeHammer is intended solely for the higher margin, low volume 4-8 Way server segment AMD will have a much easier time meeting demand. Once the yields are high, AMD could then introduce ClawHammer for desktops and 1-2 Way servers. At least that's where we see things going.