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AMD Hardware

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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  • servers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:15AM (#29023141) Homepage

    Low-power chips are great for low-load servers. I bought a cheap-o Atom nettop, no bigger than a DVD player, slapped a 2TB disk in, and installed Linux. Bam--instant offsite rsync server for my backups. The whole system uses less power than a lightbulb, makes almost no noise, and has a fanless CPU!

    It may not be right for a high-load AJAX web app platform or for an HTPC, but the low power chips are more than enough for sufficiently responsive linux+ssh server.

  • by jschen (1249578) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:16AM (#29023149)
    I notice on AMD's PDF (linked in summary) that they list some of their envisioned uses. Why would someone need a modern 64 bit system for a point of sale system? Wouldn't a Motorola (err... Freescale) 68000 be more than powerful enough for the task, and way cheaper? I don't understand why some seemingly rather simple applications would require a large amount of processing power.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:23AM (#29023239) Journal
    Compared to the common Atom + 945, AMD's new offering should(assuming it is reasonably priced) absolutely murder the Atom. The atom itself is a pretty low power chip(albeit slower than any A64); but the 945 is a nasty power hog, and has lousy 3D performance. An A64 and Radeon IGP in the same power envelope is hardly even fair, no contest, game over.

    On the other hand, intel also has a low power atom chipset, with the "GMA500" they licenced from PowerVR. That particular combination will be weaker than this AMD offering; but it'll come in at something like 25% of the power draw.

    This should, assuming it can score enough design wins to actually be buyable in a form other than trays of 1,000, be excellent competition for the Atom+945(being substantially more powerful, in the same thermal envelope), should be quite competitive with Atom+Ion(GPU performance will likely be a wash, CPU performance will be better, power envelope similar); but it won't have much effect on Atom+GMA500(substantially faster; but markedly higher power draw will keep it out of the smaller devices).

    I'd love to see these show up in mini desktop systems, or the new thin and light slightly-larger-than-netbook laptops that are showing up.
  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:24AM (#29023261) Homepage

    Intel's netbook Atoms run at 2.5W/11.8W right now -- already beating them out for power usage. Because of how important battery life is to netbook users, I don't think this has much hope of competing there. Intel does have other higher-power Atom CPUs that aren't meant for netbooks, so maybe that's the market AMD is going for. I'd be curious to see how large that market is, though.

  • Re:servers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:30AM (#29023339) Journal
    Yup, I'm looking for a low-power 64-bit chip for a home NAS. ZFS performance is much better with a 64-bit CPU (partially due to the fact it likes having a lot of kernel address space, partly because it's very heavy on 64-bit arithmetic), which eliminates the Via chips and the low-end Atoms from consideration. The power usage is much too high for a portable (21W total? What is this, 2002?) but for a low power non-portable it's quite reasonable. It will be interesting to see how it scales down when the machine is idle.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:32AM (#29023365)

    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."

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @09:35AM (#29023401) Journal
    Blame software. If you look around, a surprising number of POS systems are running some sort of XP embedded + POS graphical bloatware combination. (Dell's offerings [dell.com] in the area are more or less representative, if you are morbidly curious). Obviously, POS functions could be(and were) done on seriously weedly embedded hardware. Trouble is, if your business is already running quickbooks or something, and they want their cash register to integrate, the path of least resistance is to buy quickbooks' cash register product, which is a giant pile of bloat that only runs on full systems. On a global scale, you'd probably save money by rebuilding it to run on embedded ARM or something; but any individual economic actor is better off just buying a (still shockingly cheap) general purpose X86.

    You still don't need 64 bits for that; but all of AMD's designs(aside from some of their old Geode gear, and maybe embedded products based on Athlon XPs, if you can still buy those) are based on Athlon 64 cores, and they would save essentially nothing by disabling 64 bit capability, and might lose in certain applications that do require 64 bit support, so they might as well ship with it.
  • Re:Cool (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wild_berry (448019) * on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @10:52AM (#29024483) Journal

    The thing that swings me in AMD's direction each time I put together a computer is that the MB and AMD CPU together are comparable for performance at a lower price point than the Intel chip and its MB.

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:52PM (#29026313)
    All AMD has to do to kill the Atom is to not impose asinine restrictions (e.g. screen size <11.7") on its usage. It's as simple as that. Do that, and you will kill a good piece of the much more expensive Core 2 Duo market as well since that's what Intel is trying to foist off on the anything-larger-than-what-we-define-as-a-netbook market.

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

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