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AMD stirs Athlon technology into Geode embedded soup

May 24, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

AMD, which in recent months has gained ground against Intel in the battle for the desktop, today announced the addition of a line of high-performance, low-power embedded processors to its Geode embedded x86 processor family. The new processors will be known as the “Geode NX 1500@6W” and the “Geode NX 1750@14W,” reflecting a new naming convention based on relative performance and power consumption. AMD has committed to offer them a minimum of five years.

The Geode NX 1500@6W processor operates at 1GHz and the Geode NX 1750@14W operates at 1.4GHz. The two new embedded processors are essentially identical to AMD's Mobile Athlon processors, including packaging, but with tweaks to process technology and transistor selections that result in lower power consumption at reduced clock rates. Both new Geode NX processors are “100 percent socket and chipset compatible” with AMD's “Socket A” Athlon XP processors, according to an AMD spokesperson.

In short, the NX processors are the same chips as the Mobile Athlon, but with differing performance/power points. They won't take business away from AMD's Mobile Athlons, because they're too slow to be of interest in the laptop market, the spokesperson said.

In terms of market focus, AMD says it is targeting its new high-performance, low power NX processors at “high-end embedded applications” such as thin clients, high-end printers, point-of-sale systems, information and transaction kiosks, and telecommunications and networking equipment. Additionally, with its 6 Watt typical power consumption, the Geode NX 1500@6W processor is suitable for fanless applications.

“Extremely low power” Geode processors renamed

In conjunction with the addition of the two respun Athlon processors to its Geode embedded processor family, AMD is renaming the previously introduced Geode processors that are derived from its recent acquisition of National Semiconductor's Geode processor assets. Specifically, AMD is renaming the current Geode GX2 processors to “Geode GX 533@1.1W,” “Geode GX 466@0.9W,” and “Geode 500@1.0W.”

The Geode GX 533@1.1W processor operates at 400MHz and is supported by the AMD Geode GX DB533 development board. The Geode GX 500@1.0W processor operates at 366MHz and the Geode GX 466@.9W processor operates at 333 MHz. The GX-family chips are pin-compatible.

Five year commitment

AMD says it has made agreements with chip fabrication plants to ensure that it will be able to deliver NX and GX Geode chips for a minimum of five years from their date of introduction. AMD makes most of its own chips, but needs to out-source older designs as the technology in its own plants outstrips the capability to produce older designs, it says.

Model numbering philosophy

AMD says its new model numbers are based on benchmarks developed by Synchromesh Computing. The scheme consists of the processor's family name (Geode NX or Geode GX) followed by its performance rating, followed by its power usage. Performance ratings reference performance relative to VIA's Centaur processors.

“Using the model numbers, customers can determine if they need an extremely low-power solution as offered by our AMD Geode GX line, or a high-performance embedded solution that is now addressed with our AMD Geode NX product offering,” said Iain Morris, group vice president, AMD Personal Connectivity Solutions Group. “We are committed to providing long-term support to our customers who require low-power, high-performance embedded solutions with the AMD Geode Solutions product line.”

AMD's embedded MIPS line

In addition to its recent acquisition of National Semiconductor's Geode processor family, AMD earlier acquired a family of MIPS architecture RISC processors from Alchemy Semiconductor.

AMD's Alchemy embedded processors, including the Au1000, Au1100, Au1500, and Au1550, compete with Intel's XScale processor family in handheld and mobile applications.

Geode development boards and chip pricing

AMD provides development boards for all its Geode embedded processors. The boards are intended to serve as “complete hardware and software” reference designs for embedded applications.

The Geode NX DB1500 development board supports both the the NX 1500@6W processor and the NX 1750@14W processor. The Geode GX DB533 development board supports the GX 533@1.1W processor, the GX 466@.9W processor and the GX 500@1.0W processor.

The Geode family processors are priced as follows (10K quantities):

  • Geode GX 466@0.9W – $26.50
  • Geode GX 500@1.0W – $29.10
  • Geode GX 533@1.1W – $32.75
  • Geode NX 1500@6W – $65.00
  • Geode NX 1750@14W – $55.00

The development boards are priced as follows (single units):

  • Geode GX DB533 – $650.00
  • Geode NX DB1500 – $500.00

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