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AMD Portables Hardware

End of the Road For AMD's Geode Chip 123

Posted by timothy
An anonymous reader writes "AMD has no replacement planned for the aging Geode low-power chip, creating uncertainty for its use in products like future XO laptops made by One Laptop Per Child. There won't be a Geode successor and the company has no core microarchitecture planned to replace the chip, AMD executives said. The comments end speculation about the future of Geode, an integrated chip used in netbooks like OLPC's XO laptop, ultramobile PCs and devices like set-top boxes."
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End of the Road For AMD's Geode Chip

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  • Intel Atom (Score:2, Interesting)

    by YourExperiment (1081089) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:16AM (#26622567)

    On the one hand, you can hardly blame AMD for pulling out of this market, when Intel has got it pretty much sewn up by doing such a great job with the Atom.

    On the other hand, demand for chips like the Atom in netbooks is so high at the moment, AMD must be mad to be pulling out of this market.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:50AM (#26623151) Homepage Journal

    That really depends on the use of the low power system. One of the big reasons to use X86 is simply Flash. If you want to use Flash going with the X86 is the path of least resistance.
    So lets say you want to make a desktop box that can play YouTube, Hulu, and other media. If you build it with Linux and an X86 you will have no real technical issues getting it working.
    VIA is an option but so is the Atom. If you are talking about a PDA/Cell device then I do agree that ARM rules but then those devices often don't support Flash.
    As long as the latest Flash support is limited to Adobe blessed code X86 will have a big advantage for any device that browses the web.
    Now if JavaFX catches on and gets ported everywhere. Or if Mono/Moonlight proves to not be some terrible plot by Microsoft then things could change.

  • Re:Cyrix (Score:4, Interesting)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@pa3.14legray.net minus pi> on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:04AM (#26623419) Homepage Journal
    I would suggest VIA Nano processors [via.com.tw]. Their L2200 chip sports these features:
    • Speed: 1.6 GHz
    • FSB: 800 MHz
    • Process: 65 nm
    • Idle Power: 100 mW

    Pretty decent specs for mini-notebooks and such.

  • Re:Geode (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locutus (9039) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:47AM (#26624185)

    XScale was likely chopped because it was growing up to threaten the desktop market. XScale was based on ARM and if you haven't noticed, ARM chips are showing up in all kinds of things these days and the netbook sector is set to explode with ARM based devices this year. Dell has even put an ARM chip/system in some of their laptops to fast boot into Linux so the user can get on the web quick, get email quick, and even to run a DVD player. All with something like a 7 day battery life.

    XScale was is a threat to Intel's profits and marketshare so it had to go. It had nothing to do with low performance. IMO

    LoB

  • Re:Cyrix (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Piranhaa (672441) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:54AM (#26624311)

    Don't forget they have hardware cryptography as well - C3 or C7 was the first to include it. It uses the cycles as a way to randomize too. OpenBSD (for sure) takes advantage of this and uses it well. Encrypted tunnels, file system encryption, random number generation, etc. all put a LOT less strain on the CPU in comparison to other processors (especially embedded).

  • Re:Odd (Score:3, Interesting)

    by default luser (529332) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:07PM (#26626919) Journal

    Yes, but this is precisely the reason why AMD should drop the Geode. They haven't improved the microarchitecture much since it was purchased from NatSemi, and NatSemi just kept bolting-on crap to the MediaGX chip they bought from Cyrix.

    In other words, the Geode today is the same-old architecture from 1997 (with a few tweaks and node shrinks). The problem is, this old microarchitecture targets the same market as ARM, but can't beat ARM's power consumption. In order to cash-in on the netbook craze, AMD would need a beter microarchitecture.

    Take a look at the new chips from Via and Intel: the Atom isn't a speed demon, but it kicks the crap out of a Geode without using much more power. The Nano can't match the power consumption of the Atom, but it fills the gap between Atom and beefy desktop cores. What both chips bring to the table is REAL Windows on an ultraportable platform (Geode can't do this).

    Intel and Via figured it out: the embedded processor cores from the 1990s were not going to cut-it. With the lessons learned from the last decade, both designed new processors for the netbook market, using two different methodologies. Unfortunately, if AMD wants to compete, they need an entirely new architecture, and they simply can't afford to make one. They can't afford two architectures like Intel, and they've decided that the server/desktop design path is more important than the netbook path.

    I personally think it's the right choice - netbooks are a growing market, but there's very little money to be made, as the margins are tiny. The server market will always be growing, and will always be worth more money.

  • Re:Why oh why... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wtarreau (324106) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @04:32PM (#26629101) Homepage

    The Geode may be the only x86 CPU capable of running without even a heatsink on both the CPU and the chipset. As far as I know, Atom requires a heatsink and a fan on the chipset, and the VIA nano requires a heatsink on both. The Geode is really fantastic in this regard. A typical Geode-based system has no problem being less than 1cm thick and weighing only a few tens of grams. That's important in many areas today.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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