A personal record of understanding, deciphering, speculating and predicting the development of modern microarchitecture designs.

Friday, April 15, 2011

AMD tapes out 28nm Wichita, Intel shows new Atom and peeks 32nm shrink

It was said a few days ago that AMD taped out Wichita, their 28nm shrink on the APU roadmap.

Currently, there are two types of APUs on the market. Zacate @18W targets ultraportable notebook (such as HP dm1z and MSI X370) and small form factor desktop, while Ontario @9W targets tablet, (fanless) set-top and embedded boxes. According to AMD, these APUs are very small (< 0.8 cm^2) compared to ordinary processors. Shrinking them from 40nm to 28nm would bring the die size to below 0.5cm^2. It was also said that TSMC will apply HKMG on their 28nm process, which should offer some significant power reduction or performance boost.

I think there are two ways that AMD can bring the APUs forward. Wichita (with 1--2 Bocat core) could have similar performance to Ontario/Zacate with lower power consumption for the tablet market. Krishna (2--4 Bobcat core) could have the same 9W/18W TDP with more cores and even higher performance than Zacate for future ultraportable notebook market. These ultraportable notebooks should prove themselves with flexibility and performance clearly above the tablets. Netbook, on the other hand, is perhaps a market to be gradually replaced by tablet. It would be a mistake, in my opinion, for AMD to invest in and build up products for the netbook market now.

Currently, AMD's APUs offer much better performance than Intel's dual-core Atom. It's no surprise that with the tape out of AMD's next APU, Intel is eager to announce the new Atom and disclose its 32nm shrink at IDF in Beijing this year.


pwrntspd said...

Just wanted to note that AMD is using glo-fo for their 28nm APU's and actually they have an HPP HKMG process that may actually be better than TSMC. So better performance and less leakage.

abinstein said...

That's very interesting though I think AMD's goal is probably to allow both glo-fo and TSMC to compete on the foundry deals, and choose whichever give better overall result (cost vs performance).

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