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AMD Portables Hardware

End of the Road For AMD's Geode Chip 123

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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  • by CrashandDie ( 1114135 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:13AM (#26622501)
    If you look at embedded devices or set-top boxes, you realise you don't really want Intel or AMD made CPUs. Look at most mobile devices, they all run OMAP-based devices (ARM), because of their energy efficiency and price. It also makes a helluva lot more sense to go with a SoC (System on Chip), as soon as power and size are even remotely factors in the decision making.

    It's not because AMD drops out of the low-power energy manufacturing that the world is going to end, it just means they're focusing on things they're good at. I don't really ever remember AMDs being particularly energy-efficient, not nearly as what some VIA CPUs manage. I'm not talking about the Atom either, which is a whole different area.

    Maybe I'm going completely bonkers, but if I were to build a low-power system, Intel and AMD would be last on my list, by quite a margin.
  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:14AM (#26622527)

    FlightSim is dead. Cyrix is dead.

    FTA: "Geode's origins can be traced back to the mid-90s when Cyrix developed the MediaGX integrated chip for sub-US$1,000 mainstream PCs, according to McCarron. Cyrix merged with National Semiconductor in 1999 and developed the first Geode chips for embedded devices from MediaGX design. AMD ultimately bought the Geode business from National Semiconductor in 2003" See also wikipedia, of course.

    Sad how so many big companies buy these 'niche' technologies then 'manage' them into a smoking hole in the ground...

  • Re:Intel Atom (Score:3, Informative)

    by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:38AM (#26622927) Journal

    well, the geode certainly didn't have the performance of the Atom (maybe half at best)? It did have models that targeted lower power segments - I'm pretty sure there was an 0.5W model.

  • Re:last post. (Score:4, Informative)

    by protobion ( 870000 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:07PM (#26623505) Homepage

    Proocessor->silicon->sand->minerals->rock-> Geode [wikipedia.org]...get it ?

  • Reading it wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:27PM (#26623857) Homepage Journal

    AMD is NOT halting production of the Geode. They are not leaving the market (RTFM!). They have decided that it serves it's niche AS IS and will be kept AS IS. That's a very different statement. They're saying that it is a mature product (a rare thing in IT).

    Currently, the Geode is good enough for many applications and would be a step up for others. The embedded world tends away from the shiny object model of upgrades. If it worked last year, it works this year, and it'll work next year. Changes in the product are considered undesirable.

    AMD's statement doesn't even mean there won't be a die shrink or even a faster Geode in the future, just that they won't be updating it's architecture.

    It's not a bad decision either. There is a significant niche for the Geode between the Atom (too hot, too power hungry) and things like the Dragon Ball and mips (not enough power).

    Geode isn't in trouble until Intel comes out with an x86 that doesn't need a heatsink (or at least doesn't need a fan).

  • Re:Why oh why... (Score:2, Informative)

    by EXrider ( 756168 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:49PM (#26624231)
    Uh, yeah they do. The HP Mininote 2133 [hp.com] is one example. I run my MythTV box on a Mini ITX EPIA MII motherboard [via.com.tw]. The video chipsets do MPEG2 and H.264 offloading, so they handle the job quite nicely with a dedicated tuner card, just don't expect to be doing any transcoding on the lowly C3's [wikipedia.org] and C7's [wikipedia.org]. The Via Nano [wikipedia.org] supposedly can compete very well against the Atom, since Intel saddled all their designs with a massive northbridge.
  • Linux on arm is improving but there are still problems.

    One big one is the lack of FPU standards, that means that any general purpose linux distro for arm has to compromise in the floating point department. The old debian arm port is targeted at a FPU almost noone uses anymore meaning floating point generally has to be done through kernel emulation (which is encrediblly slow). The new debian armel port uses software floating point which is faster but still not brilliant. There was talk of offering optimised versions of some particularlly performance critical packages for the armel port but I don't think anything has come of that yet.

    Another issue is java, some arm chips have java accelleration but sun and arm won't release the specs to allow them to be used by the likes of debian. Openjdk is availible on debian armel but it's interpreter only and so very slow (and arm chips aren't exactly speed demons to start with)

    Another is flash, you can get an arm port for your device if you pay enough but the user will probablly never be able to update it.

    Then there is acrobat reader, it is a bit bloated but i've never found another PDF reader that does as good a job when handling large documents.

    So for a machine whose primary purpose is to be an internet terminal (portable or otherwise) I see a lot of advantages for going for a low power x86 chip like the atom or the C3.

  • Why this is a non-issue

    AMD is still producing Geode processors to fill existing orders. And presumably they will keep making them as long as people buy them. The Geode processors changed substantially over time, so there is nothing to suggest that the next Geode would have been a drop-in replacement for the next XO, and it is unlikely that the next XO will use the same motherboard anyway.

    Geodes that Rock

    Today you can do better than the Geode in terms of price-performance. But it has certain characteristics that make it a winner, and you can buy a lot of Geode-based products right now which are wonderful. The x86 compatibility means that you can use standard operating systems and drivers, et cetera. Probably the best buys in a Geode processor come from PC Engines [pcengines.com] from whom you can buy a whole geode-based system with dual MiniPCI, quad USB2, a little RAM and a CF slot ideal for a household server/AP complete with Atheros-based WiFi for about $200. We're talking audio and video here, too, although it's not going to win any performance awards.

    I recently (yesterday morning) acquired a DT Research WebDT 360 tablet. It's got a really nice 8.4" TFT @ 800x600 res, a USB2 port (plus one or two more inside) and MiniPCI WiFi as well as bluetooth and some buttons. Mine came with WinCE 5 but I intend to roll my own build of Familiar Linux to keep the install size low. The system's internal storage is a 512MB Disk-On-Chip, but it also has a hidden CF slot. This system has an AMD Geode LX 800 (500MHz; it is often misadvertised as 800MHz on eBay and even in official product literature) which has MMX and 3dNow! instructions, acceleration for AES encryption, and a TDP of 3.6W. Typical consumption is 1.8W! It is horribly hard to beat this with x86 compatibility. You can pick these up under $300 right now - original starting price is over $1200 for some reason. They do have a lovely alloy case...

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