SoC dynamics could decide the endgame as Intel, AMD converge on similar architecturesRick Merritt, EE Times(09/24/2007 9:00 AM EDT)San Francisco
-- The latest maneuvers in the chess match between Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp. find the rivals advancing toward similar architectures. That leaves AMD in a difficult spot, because it trails Intel by an entire process node in silicon technology. There are enough moves ahead that no endgame is at hand, but it's not looking good for AMD.
By this time next year, Intel will ship its first server processors with integrated memory controllers and a new high-speed interconnect, matching what AMD has been offering for a few years. By sometime in 2009, both companies will have graphics, and possibly cores for security or Ethernet networking, on their processors as well.
Intel will have an edge in performance, power and cost because it will deliver its parts in 45-nanometer technology, with an eye on the 32-nm node. AMD's parts will be mainly in 65-nm technology, moving to 45 nm.
In the course of playing this game, the world's biggest semiconductor company has become a system-on-chip convert. At the Intel Developer Forum here last week, Intel discussed at least four SoC designs it has in the works for markets ranging from handheld gadgets to high-end visualization systems.
How the new SoC dynamics play out in the traditional X86 contest remains to be seen, with several key questions still unanswered.
Will Intel's new QuickPath processor interconnect have an edge in raw technology or time-to-market over AMD's HyperTransport? Will either company do a better job of gathering around itself a robust group of co-processor makers that may be future SoC partners? And, perhaps most important, who will make the more effective moves in the emerging game of identifying markets and creating the right mix of cores in a microprocessor to address them?
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