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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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  • What about transferring the job to Cyrix chips? With an Open Source installation there should be little problem transitioning.
    • by attah ( 1217454 )
      Who the heck read my mind? I was even considering mailing AMD yesterday to find out this very thing. Now I'll get one for sure. But anyways.. Wouldn't iyt be very neat to have a 45 nm gedode LX X4 or something along these lines... Most beautiful creation ever i'm sure..
    • 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 in

      • would it be unreasonable for companies to release end of the road chipset development including all engineering white papers, etc.? Especially those companies who found a niche market and pissed it all away? I just can't help but think someone would be interested. Copyrights, etc. be damned because the money has already been made.
      • by mrops ( 927562 )

        get your SBC based on geode while they last www.pcengines.ch

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by houstonbofh ( 602064 )
      Kinda funny. Via is getting more buzz with C3 and Eden. Intel is getting lots of buzz with Atom. AMD is giving up the market... I want a CEO job so I can go to work drunk too...
    • Re:Cyrix (Score:4, Interesting)

      by palegray.net ( 1195047 ) <philip.paradis@p ... net minus author> on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:04PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Piranhaa ( 672441 )

        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).

        • I didn't know about this feature set before, and appreciate the information. A little research on Google led me to a page on padlock [gsp.com], a "driver for the cryptographic functions and RNG in VIA C3, C7 and Eden processors."

          From the description: "The C3 and Eden processor series from VIA include hardware acceleration for AES. The C7 series includes hardware acceleration for AES, SHA1, SHA256 and RSA. All of the above processor series include a hardware random number generator.

          The padlock driver registers i
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Forget VIA, take a look at low end Semprons. They can idle at 1W, have excellent performance and best of start at £15. You then have your pick of socket AM2 motherboards, with chipsets like the 780g or 8200 offering things like 6+ SATA ports (for NAS) and hardware H.264/BluRay decoding.

        Sure, you can save a tiny amount of electricity by spending a lot more money on a VIA system, but if you work out what it actually costs to run a Sempron for a year over a VIA Nano you quickly realise that it will take

      • VIA and ARM will rule the low power market.

        I'm impressed by the nano. It's a tad heavy on power consumption, but the performance is great; beats Atoms.

        But if power consumption is really a factor, there's no way to beat ARM SoCs. Those Cortex A8/A9 processors are fast, and some have TDPs under 0.1 watts. You can run the chips without a headsink, and they won't even heat up at full load.

  • Looks like the 3rd world will be running intels Classmate then :|
  • from the no-dept. dept.
  • This futuristic device was one of the earliest commercial uses of the Geode chip. Unfortunately at $400 it was overpriced, and 3Com never supported the firmware developed for it.
    • Not familiar with it, but Soekris boxes [soekris.com] run just short of that (typically around $300), and they're extremely popular at those prices. I guess I'll have to place future orders with the knowledge that I'm buying discontinued stock.

      • Yeah, and even lower than that are the ALIX boards from PC Engines. They are around $100-$135 for the board (add $25 for a case and AC-DC converter), and like the Soekris boxes come in smaller form factors than MiniITX.

        I really hope that something fills the niche that the geode had. There aren't really any offerings using VIA or Atom processors at those prices and form factors. There are a ton of single-board-systems that use ARM or Freescale (which should be better picks anyway) but the fact is that not al

        • by niko9 ( 315647 )


          I have been using a Geode based PC Engines board as my personal firewall (with m0n0wall) for years with nary a hiccup.
          Recently I have been using a PC Engines ALIX board (also Geode based) as a dead silent USB music server for my audiophile setup. Considering
          what some "high-end" manufactures (think Linn and Sonos) are charging for their music server solutions, mine was a steal at $135 for the board and one hour's time installing Voyage Linux. The whole server consumes a total of 3 watts when playing F

      • Yes, Soekris was the first I thought of too. I hope they'll find a good replacement. They're really nifty little boxes...
  • Geodes??? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by diskofish ( 1037768 )
    I wouldn't think a computer would run very well with this. I remember getting Geodes [tinyurl.com] for Christmas and they were pretty cool to break open and look inside, but I doubt it would be able to run a computer especially after hitting it with a hammer!!!
  • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

    Seems an odd decision when Intel is selling so many Atoms; the 'Athlon Neo' sounds interesting, but at 15W it's going to have a hard time competing with Atoms at 2-8W even with Intel's crappy inefficient chipsets attached to them.

    • That's exactly the problem though: at this price point, volume is critical. For AMD to make the Geode look attractive and get their volumes up, they'd have to pare their margins back to the bone, or perhaps even take a loss on each chip. Given the current climate, you can see why they don't want to take that gamble.

      And if they were banking on the XO getting the volume up, well, we all know how that's panning out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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 wou

  • 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 Artraze ( 600366 )

      That's true, but the problem is that Windows won't run on anything but x86, and even Linux isn't nearly complete on the ARM as it is on x86. On top of that, things like PCIe and other expansion buses quite simply aren't available on non-x86 systems.

      These chips aren't about embedded devices, but rather more like embedded computers, if you will. The aim is to give most of the features of a standard computer, including pretty good performance, RAM, etc, in a lower power way.

      • Quite honestly, when you look at what a SoC can achieve these days, I wonder why you would even look at an "embedded computer". See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuVwh_VrIxk [youtube.com] for example.

        I think we are getting to a point where we should starting to draw a line between PC and Embedded Device. Yes, both run Linux, and the support for say, ARM architectures is extremely good (go to http://packages.debian.org/stable/allpackages [debian.org] and pick one package at random, and fine one that's not available on ARM or ARMel
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by petermgreen ( 876956 )

          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

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      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

    • Agreed. x86 sucks for HTPCs as well when you see what alternatives there are out there.

      I picked up an iStar HD (similar to the Popcorn as they both run the NMT software). It includes an embedded Sigma Designs chip (same one found in some Blu-Ray players). It crunches through 1080P x264 like butter. The device also runs torrents, can connect/host NFS/samba shares, run Youtube/flckr, etc. While not the fastest for navigating, it comes to a measly $180 to purchase. Last time I checked, you couldn't buy a dece

      • by radish ( 98371 )

        I'm sure it's a nice device, but I think your pricing is a little off. I recently built a new server - AMD x64 with 2GB of RAM for around $100 (excluding storage, as I assume your device is diskless). In my case that was:

        CPU $30
        mobo $35
        2GB ram $30

        Plus shipping etc. I had a spare case/psu but otherwise you can get that for less than $50. Far from being underpowered the server is nice and fast (I'm sure it's faster in general use than your machine) and runs several linux VMs quite happily. I haven't tried it

      • That looks like a nice box. How well does it work with a Media Server?

        • I don't like replying to my own replies BUT..

          I have a networked ZFS 4TB Raid5 array setup for my media. I just setup the NFS mounts that way and it works great. Grabbing the file listing for the first time takes a little bit (30secs - 1min), but after that it is just as fast as browsing through a computer. It also exports the hard drive contents in a way the PS3 can view it as a media server as well (though I haven't had a need to use this) and I'm sure is nice if you have multiple TVs in the home - network

    • by rtechie ( 244489 ) *

      Because developers and engineers are far more familiar with x86 and there are vastly more tools and resources for x86.

      I've done embedded Linux development on platforms other than x86 (PowerPC and MIPS). It sucks.

  • Intel Atom (Score:2, Interesting)

    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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Artraze ( 600366 )

      It makes me think that this is really just misdirection to make Intel complacent. While not a great strategy most of the time, with the current economic situation the stock price isn't going to take much of a hit. Then, when they announce a new low power CPU, their stock should get a nice boost and Intel will need to redouble their R&D to catch up.

      • by salimma ( 115327 )

        That would likely backfire -- witness Sun's on-again, off-again support for Solaris-on-Intel. If AMD were to suddenly introduce a new, killer low-power CPU, it would not get as much adoption by hardware vendors as if they did not discontinue the chip.

        • Except unlike Solaris on Intel, an AMD embedded x86 SoC doesn't have to deal with an architecture switch.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ByOhTek ( 1181381 )

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sjames ( 1099 )

        That's a big deal since the Geode doesn't need even a heatsink. That puts the Geode and Atom into separate use segments.

    • The Geode was not meant to compete with the Atom. It competed with xscale, arm, and other embedded processors. Its a pretty competitive market. I dont think it was ever meant to be a laptop processor either. Atom on the other hand was supposed to be in laptops and is a much newer design.

      AMD tried to play catch up with the Geode MX but that was based on the very old 2002 'Thoroughbred' design. Even that only lasted for a short while. Atom pretty much ate their lunch. AMD is just cutting an old product they

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke ( 6130 )

      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.

      Think less about units sold and think more about gross margins, and you'll see why a company with limited R&D resources like AMD may not be mad to let the netbook market go. Despite their popularity, the actual amount of money to be made selling netbook processors isn't that big.

      Though I wouldn't expect them to be out of it forever. As the size of the netbook market

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        "Despite their popularity, the actual amount of money to be made selling netbook processors isn't that big."

        Processor + host chipset + GPU, on the other hand, is a bigger chunk of cash. If AMD don't have a competitive CPU, then that market will go to Intel at the low end and Intel + Nvidia at the high end.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke ( 6130 )

          Processor + host chipset + GPU, on the other hand, is a bigger chunk of cash. If AMD don't have a competitive CPU, then that market will go to Intel at the low end and Intel + Nvidia at the high end.

          That's really only one extra chip since the GPU will be integrated on the chipset, still with razor thin margins. That's really not any better, since what's important is the margin they can get for a given piece of silicon. Selling an extra hunk of silicon with a tiny margin makes no more sense than selling ju

          • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

            "And there's no such thing as a 'high end' netbook."

            Do the words 'Nvidia' and 'Ion' mean anything to you?

            Also, I've read claims that margins on the Atom chips are pretty high; given how tiny they are, they can't cost much to produce.

            • Assume you have a $100 processor with 40% gross profit margin, you sell 1,000,000 units and make $40,000,000
              Assume you have a $20 processor with 80% gross profit margin, you sell 2,000,000 units and make $32,000,000

              Hard to feed the same number of mouths with $32M that you did with $40M, right?

              The market needs to be much bigger to support the much lower actual selling price of a $10 chip like atom, rather than a $100 core2 or i7. Even with double the gross profit margin and double the volume, it's hard to se

  • I dunno. But perhaps AMD "ran the numbers" and decided that it wasn't competitive in the embedded marketplace. As the smaller of the two CPU rivals, it needs to be careful about which battles it chooses to fight and can't dip a toe into every niche market. The Athlon Neo looks like an interesting product, but it seems a little too power hungry for the tiny netbook market and definitely not for embedded devices other than perhaps set top boxes. Time will tell.

    • Good point or the fact they are not getting the number of orders to scale production to improve margins.
      Running a business off margins alone is normally bad business.
      As Low Margins * high volume = profit.
      or High margins * Low Volume = profit.
      Low Margins * Low Volume = no profit
      High Margins * High Volume = High Profit, but... Leaves you open for cost cutting competition, creating a case where Volume will need to decrease, or you need to cut your margins to stay competitive.

  • Why oh why... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    is no one interested in VIA's most recent offering here in this market. From what I've read it's a much better solution than the Intel Atom.. Does anyone make a system with the VIA processors though? I haven't seen any.

    • by xgr3gx ( 1068984 )
      Yes - Jetway does. [newegg.com] I have one and use it as a firewall running IPcop. It's great.
      I got a pretty lightweight one, but they have faster ones that would be perfect for average desktop use.
      • Unless I'm mistaken, the systems you linked to are based on the Via's Eden [wikipedia.org], not their new Nano [wikipedia.org] processors.
    • is no one interested in VIA's most recent offering here in this market. From what I've read it's a much better solution than the Intel Atom.. Does anyone make a system with the VIA processors though? I haven't seen any.

      Nope. No one...[/Sarcasm]
      http://www.google.com/search?q=wallmart+gpc&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t [google.com]

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      Indeed, if you forget about complex AJAX websites and Flash, a VIA CPU would allow you to make a netbook with a really incredible battery life.

      • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

        How is that flamebait? A low-end VIA CPU would be too slow for AJAX, let alone Flash.

        Flash sucks on anything other than IE on Windows, even with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo CPU.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      The older VIA chips just didn't perform all that well and they where often tied to chip sets with really poor Linux support.
      Linux is important in the embedded market. Right now I can go to Newegg and buy a few Atom based solutions. The latest Via was no where to be seen last time I looked.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by EXrider ( 756168 )
      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.
    • Re:Why oh why... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wtarreau ( 324106 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @05:32PM (#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.

      • List of 8051 manufacturers. [microcontroller.com]

        An interesting phenomenon has occurred in instruction sets. Things have stratified into approximately four layers. Each layer is more expensive, takes more power, and has higher capabilities. At the high end are x86 CPUs which have stuck with x86 for software compatibility. Below the x86 CPUs are ARM processors. Below that are vendor specific instruction sets. And, at the very bottom, x86 again!

        For really, really low powered hardware applications where you really don't
      • by mczak ( 575986 )
        If you pair atom with the poulsbo chipset, it certainly won't require a fan (I'm not quite sure in which environments it could run even without a heatsink). Even paired with a 945gse instead (but not the 945gc) it doesn't really require a fan neither. Not sure about nvidia's ion platform...
  • I have two questions that I don't believe are covered by the summary:

    1) Is this the end of the line for the Geode?
    2) Is the Geode used in the OLPC XO laptops?

    • by Ignacio ( 1465 )

      1) It's the end of the product line of the Geode. No new Geode models are expected. Current models will be produced as long as there is demand.
      2) In the XO-1, yes. We shall have to see what the XO-2 will use.

  • Its probably smart for AMD to leave this segment for now. VIA and ARM will have control of the ultramobile market for a while. Both companies offer high performance while keeping TDP extremely low. However, I can also see Intel being a major player in this segment in the future but, certainly not as big as ARM will be, especially if you look at some of the new ARM based OMAP processors Texas Instruments are comming out with. As for VIA, they initially sold their low power processors for embedded industrial
  • 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).

    • does the atom need a fan? According to wikipedia the atom N270 has a TDP of 2.5W and the atom+chipset has a TDP 11.8W. If we assume we can operate the chip at 70 degrees celcius and ambiant is 30 degrees celcius that gives us a requirement for a 3.6 celcius per watt heatsink. That is achivable passively afaict.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        It should be possible to cool it passively, but every system I've seen had a fan on it. I would think Intel marketing would lead with fan-less pictures if it was a reasonable idea to run it that way...

        • by Aluvus ( 691449 )
          Both of Intel's Mini-ITX desktop boards with the Atom have the CPU passively cooled. However, they have a fan for the chipset (which consumes more power), and that may be the source of your confusion. At least some Atom-based notebooks do have cooling fans, but I couldn't say if they all do.
          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            That is entirely possible. It's also too bad. Passive cooling is a huge plus for embedded devices.

          • Both of Intel's Mini-ITX desktop boards with the Atom have the CPU passively cooled. However, they have a fan for the chipset
            The fact that the highest power chip in the "atom soloution" is not the processor is kind of crazy but also fairly irrelevent. The important fact is that one of the chips in the soloution is using enough power to be a pain to cool without a fan.

        • It looks like there is indeed a passive cooled atom board

          http://www.mini-itx.com/reviews/atoms/default.asp?page=5 [mini-itx.com]

    • Why did this even get greenlit as an article? They don't have a replacement architecture ready? STOP THE PRESSES!!! They don't have a replacement architecture yet, either, for the rice paddy, but it's not like this is something of concern or even interest.
    • by Strake ( 982081 )

      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).

      The 8086 requires no heatsink.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        So if they can merely multiply it's speed by a factor of 100 or so (without making it run hotter), they'll have a contender :-)

      • hell i'm pretty sure that some (perhaps all) 386 models didn't need one.

        Afaict it was the 486 era where heatsinks started to become required and they kept growing up until about the P4 era. Now (at least in desktops) they seem to have stabalised at a size similar to those used on P4 chips.

    • Yes, the Geode will probably live on.

      Evidence the fact that AMD has developed an adaptor board [digitimes.com] to allow the Geode to run with DDR2 RAM since DDR is becoming so hard to find. They would not put effort into supporting this chip if it were end-of-life.

    • 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).

      You're wrong in a couple of ways.

      There is no "Geode". GX and NX are completely different products. The former is very low power but with very low performance. The latter is rather high performance, but competes (well) against VIA's MiniITX CPUs and, really, any lower-power line of x86 CPUs like Intel's ULVs, and AMD's own mobile products.

      I assume you are refe

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        You left out the LX. One of those and the companion chip provide a full system. No heatsink required.

  • Well, poop. (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by theJML ( 911853 )

    I guess I won't be able to upgrade to a new Geode when this one dies. I'd have to say the little thing works quite well, 4 sata ports, software raid-5, tons o' storage, running a webserver and numerous other servers... Oh well, AMD looses another customer I suppose.

  • I've used Geode systems in tiny little ALIX boxes [pcengines.ch] that measure about 6"x6"x1" and then installed pfSense [pfsense.org] on them for firewall duties.

    They work great and have enough grunt to push 50-80Mbps [pfsense.org]. More than enough for your typical internet connection. With better NICs (the ones embedded on the ALIX don't do much in the way of CPU offload or interrupt mitigation) it could push more. And they do this while drawing about 4 watts. Yeah, seriously!

    CPU power is a bit lacking if you need to push a bunch of VPN traffi

  • Someone will buy the tape and IP and continue development... if not, there's always Via....

  • I think the most interesting development of netbook microprocessors is the rejuvination of mips. That and ARM9. when a laptop is used to type and surf with low power and form factor, why use x86?
  • I have a OLPC XO (Geode) running Sugar and an Aspire One (Atom) running Intrepid. While the Aspire is far more powerful and runs rings around the XO, I still mainly use the the XO.


    Well, for one I can take it into any meeting without annoying my colleagues with the constant fan noise. It doesn't get warm. It's completely silent. It looks cute, women tend to be drawn to it, and it's a doddle to use.

    The Acer excels in multimedia applications and to watch movies on, but for day to day work, I schlep m

  • 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...

    • JIC anyone is wondering, I've heard that these have about a 25% failure rate out of box :P Also the company is spectacularly unhelpful. They will refuse to even give you full specs on the units. If you have a choice, buy something else. I did however manage to get into the BIOS (if at first you don't succeed, try a different keyboard) but so far can't manage to attach a keyboard and a storage device at the same time. I have been corresponding with someone who has some patches etc. I just need some quality t

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