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AMD Releases 2 Low-Power 64-bit Processors 121

Posted by timothy
from the competition-is-grand dept.
rwiggers writes "AMD has released two new low power processors for embedded apps. With a power of 18W and a chipset with 3W of average consumption [PDF] it seems we may have some interesting competition with Intel's Atom."
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AMD Releases 2 Low-Power 64-bit Processors

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  • by Albanach (527650) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:26AM (#29023289) Homepage

    Wouldn't a Motorola (err... Freescale) 68000 be more than powerful enough for the task, and way cheaper?


    Maybe, but not by much - reports [] suggest the Atom costs less than $10 to manufacture. At that price any savings between processor types is pretty tiny unless you're deploying a vast number of them.

    There's so much x86 development though, I'd imagine x86, and especially windows programmers, are much easier to find and cost less to hire. The processor cost in a POS system is going to be a tiny fraction of the total when you add in touch screens, bar code scanners, cash drawers, scales etc etc.

    From the manufacturer's point of view it can probably develop software faster and cheaper using .net and it's that saving that probably drives lots of x86 uptake in these sorts of devices.

  • Re:Cool (Score:4, Informative)

    by ExE122 (954104) * on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:27AM (#29023297) Homepage Journal
    I didn't look at individual pricing, but the AMD Turion Neo X2 L625 is alread being offered in a laptop from HP [] - listed at a base of $569.99 but the processor is a $75 upgrade... or so you think, as soon as you select it you are told you need to upgrade the video card as well!

    Either way, they wasted no time getting this on the market. The price seems competetive with the Intel Atom model.

    I'm sure it's just a matter of time before Intel one-ups them though.
  • by fmachado (89905) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:38AM (#29023441)

    But do not forget the 945 chipset eats energy like there is no tomorrow, so combine Atom (~4W)+ 945 (~24W) and then compare to AMD + AMD Chipset and they end like almost same (even favoring AMD a bit) power envelope but AMD will be much more powerful. 945GC eats a little less but only because better idle control.

    Even Intel acknowledges it and is using a new chipset will far less consumption, but still with very weak video.

    ION plataform is powerful with video but eats almost same power than 945 chipset.

  • by Cassini2 (956052) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:42AM (#29023495)

    The embedded market is known for its fondness of cheap hardware, and sticking to the status quo. For many years, DOS was a dominant O/S for Point of Sale applications. In recent years, Windows is getting more popular. Linux is a big portion of this market, because it is free, and has real-time extensions. You can control entire machine tools in real-time with Linux, implementing the servo-loops on a PC in software. You can even prototype embedded applications, like motor controllers, in real-time Linux on a PC, and then port to an appropriately sized embedded platform when you know your processor requirements. With embedded PC chips, like these, it may not even be cost effective to switch off the PC platform for some applications.

    The 68000 / ColdFire line is getting rather old at this point. The problem is that only two platforms long-term can keep up the pace with the cost of modern processor development. The IBM Power series (including the cell for the PS3), and the Intel/AMD x86 platform. Everyone else, cannot keep up with the cost of modern processor development and the cost of fabrication facilities. Even AMD struggles to finance fabrication, with the resulting Global Foundaries spin-off. Intel struggles with the same problem too. Intel is unable to make the Itanium (Itanic) line competitive with the x86 line. The top 10 supercomputers are all either Power series processors, x86 AMD or x86 Intel. On the total Top 500 list, only a very few systems (6) use Intel Itanium. It simply costs too much money to develop a processor architecture, and only the largest architectures can remain competitive on a cost/performance basis.

    There are many simple embedded applications that do use inexpensive processors. There is an entire industry developing 8-bit, 16-bit, and even some 32-bit embedded processors (including the ColdFire.) However, generally the PC is not competing in the same space. Interfacing between the 8-bit processors and the PC is becoming a challenge.

    Does anyone know good ways to connect the embedded processor to a standard PC motherboard? RS-232 is becoming rare. Ethernet overwhelms the small processors with data. Any good embedded communication solutions for networked motor drive and control applications?

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by danpritts (54685) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:46AM (#29023545) Homepage

    It's a guarantee of availability.

    The typical lifetime of a CPU package is a year or 18 months.

    Embedded designers want to be able to design around something that won't disappear next year right when they've got the bugs out and they're ready to ship.

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @10:13AM (#29023895)

    Okay, so the 18W number is "thermal design power"... sigh, another bloody spec.

    Is this a typical spec that is used for comparison? I ask because I've been an electrical engineer for 15 years and, up until now, have done fine with "typical power consumption" (which is supposedly 3 W for this chip, compared to 7 W for the Intel Atom Z530) and "maximum power consumption", which is what you have to design the power supply around, lest the supply rails brown out.

    Sigh... like they say: "A datasheet writer can get twice the performance out of a chip that an engineer can."

    The Thermal Design Power is the spec for the cooling system -- so relax, it's the Mechanical Engineer's problem, we don't do thermo.

  • Are You High? (Score:4, Informative)

    by JoeSixpack00 (1327135) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @10:13AM (#29023903)
    Assuming you're half the Linux fanatic you're coming off as, I'm sure you already know that no one has more open documentation than AMD/ATI. Hell their open documentation and support is pretty much keeping them alive on Linux, seeing how their drivers are still inferior to those of nvidia. So because they didn't have an entire article promising to do what they're already doing, you're complaining?
  • Re:servers (Score:3, Informative)

    by wirelessbuzzers (552513) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @10:17AM (#29023955)

    VIA Nano is 64-bit. Dunno how its price/performance/power compares to an undervolted desktop CPU or cheap laptop CPU. It's definitely faster, more power hungry and more expensive than an Atom. But like the Atom, it's also definitely available in Mini-ITX.

  • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @10:22AM (#29024027)

    Cables. Duh... Search for MultiSeat. [] []

    Great if you have kids or a larger family. One decently powered machine can power multiple "computers".

    The technology they used was sending VGA & Audio over USB.

  • Re:servers (Score:3, Informative)

    by linhares (1241614) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @10:30AM (#29024145)
    Here's a tip for you, son. Whenever you need to find out something, you may want to take a look at these interesting websites, for starters: Wikipedia [] or Google []. Sometimes these websites have information for you. Now go on and give it a try. What's a goatse?
  • by avandesande (143899) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:51AM (#29025295) Journal

    Intel's next iteration for atom called 'PINEVIEW' is going to have memory controller and GPU on the chip- it is easy to see why they didn't design a completely new chipset for a configuration that was falling off the roadmap. Don't forget too that Intel goes through a pretty strenuous validation cycle for their customers which the 945 has been through.

    I am sure the next generation will address most of these power concerns and then AMD will be the one 'murdered'

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:20PM (#29025745) Journal
    Most ARM chips these days have VFP and NEON extensions, so FPU performance isn't much of a problem. The only time you get serious performance issues is when you have a chip with no FPU and try to run code that requires one. In this case, every floating point operation (including loads to floating point registers and stores to floating point registers, which happened a lot with the old ARM Linux ABI which passed floating point values in registers) traps to the kernel, which emulates the instruction. If you compile for softfloat and use the old ABI, then you need everything to compile for softfloat. With EABI, floating point registers are not used for parameter passing, so you can have some libraries using softfloat and some using hardfloat, which improves compatibility.

    These days, however, it's quite rare to find an ARM core anywhere other than the very bottom end of the market that doesn't have an FPU (and a SIMD unit). Anything based on the Cortex A8 core, for example, has reasonable floating point support.

    You're almost right about Java. Most ARM chips have a set of extra instructions for things like bounds-checked array accesses that are used to make it easier to implement a JVM (basically, an ARM chip has a few different instruction decoders, one of which can read Java bytecode, directly execute just under half of the JVM instructions, and quickly jump to other routines for accessing the others). These instruction sets are not not published, but ARM does provide a Java implementation for Linux if you pay for it. That doesn't mean you can't use Java with a completely open-source stack, it just means that you don't get the accelerated JVM. The real benefit from Jazelle is that it makes interpreted bytecode almost as fast as JIT-compiled bytecode without the extra CPU resources needed for the JIT compile and the extra RAM needed for the caching the JIT-compiled code. In terms of overall performance, a JIT compiler is as fast as or faster than a Jazelle-based interpreter. Presumably you could combine these two techniques and JIT-compile hotspots in the code and use Jazelle for the rest, but ARM's JVM doesn't do this (it would take more memory, which isn't really an option for mobile phones, which are their biggest market). If you've got enough memory for a full JVM, it's not a problem.

  • by level_headed_midwest (888889) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @02:55PM (#29028607)

    What do you mean by "true 64-bit processor" or "32-bit processor with 64-bit extensions?" A CPU is either a 32-bit CPU (can only use at most 32-bit instruction words) or it is a 64-bit CPU (can use 64-bit instruction words). The CPU in question is based on the AMD Athlon 64, which was the original x86_64 CPU. These CPUs can execute 16, 32, or 64-bit code, depending on the OS that is installed. If it's running a 64-bit OS, the CPU runs in 64-bit mode, where is uses 64-bit instruction words. I would say it as well as all x86_64 CPUs are "true" 64-bit CPUs.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @04:08PM (#29029937) Journal
    It doesn't matter. The important restrictions come from Microsoft, not Intel. If you want the $15 OEM licenses for XP, you need under 1GB of RAM, less than 160GB HDD or 32GB SSD, and a single-core processor under 1GHz (with some specific exemptions for certain models, including most Atom chips). For Windows 7, the CPU restriction is a single-core CPU under 2GHz. The screen size for XP can't exceed 12.1", but Windows 7 restricts this to 10.2". If your specs exceed this then you have to pay the full price for a Windows OEM license, which drives up the cost a lot more. Of course, you don't need to run Windows, but if you're going with Linux then you may as well go with an ARM chip instead of AMD and get lower power and better performance-per-Watt for less money.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein