AMD Shifts to Mobile 65nm Production

Intel has already soundly beaten AMD to the goal post with regard to 65-nanometer production, with its Core 2 Duo processors outperforming AMD's at the top of the CPU product line, for the first time in years. But AMD's comeback may be in full swing, as that company's transition from 90nm to 65nm appears to be in overdrive, in a move that may make or break the company's fortunes.

Last week, the Taiwanese electronics industry daily DigiTimes reported that sources at Chartered Semiconductor, which operates one of AMD's outsourced foundries in Singapore, had revealed it was given the go-ahead by AMD to ramp up production to 90% 65nm by the end of next year.

Late last month, it was learned that the company has already begun transitioning its existing Athlon 64 X2 processor line from its current 90nm "Windsor" platform to a new 65nm "Brisbane" platform, with a formal announcement scheduled for this November.

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Then today, motherboard makers who have to start producing compatible products months ahead of CPU producers' formal announcements, told DigiTimes that a similar transition is being planned for AMD's mobile dual-core Turion 64 X2 and single-core Mobile Sempron processor lines. In the second quarter of 2007, the new dual-core "Tyler" platform for the X2 will replace the current "Taylor" platform (no, that's not a typo), increasing dual-channel memory bandwidth to 800 MHz.

The challenge before AMD now is to meet or beat Intel's new standard for efficiency and power conservation, and to do so convincingly. When Core 2 Duo was launched, Intel touted its new chips were rated with a thermal design point of no more than 75 watts. As explained, 75 watts of cooling power is required on average to maintain a nominal temperature for such a chip.

AMD's new Brisbane platform chips are said to have a TDP of 65 W, with the exception of the top-of-the-scale 5000+ at 76 W. But the company continues to claim it measures TDP by a different, and more accepted, scale. It should take no more than 76 W, by the AMD scale, to cool the new Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 65 nm edition come November; in other words, if Intel's metric were applied to AMD's chips, the TDP would turn out much lower.

If it turns out that AMD claims a TDP of 65 W and Intel claims a TDP of 65 W, then AMD's argument over metrics may have to be coupled with some overwhelmingly convincing thermal dynamics analysis.

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