updated 08:40 am EDT, Fri May 18, 2007
Chipmaker AMD today launched one of its first clear challenges to Intel's Core platform. Codenamed "Puma," the platform is a combination mainboard and CPU which will both be much faster than today's hardware while also fine-tuning battery life. A new CPU architecture, nicknamed "Griffin," will be one of AMD's first explicitly tailored for mobile use. In contrast to the current Turion 64 X2, which is fundamentally an Athlon converted for notebook use, "Griffin" will have completely independent power levels for each processor core as well as the HyperTransport system links; the system can lower clock speeds and power draw whenever the system idles or is put into a power-saving mode.
The CPU design is at the same time faster than today's chips, AMD says. "Griffin" will use HyperTransport 3.0, which triples the peak bandwidth for especially demanding tasks like graphics. Its on-chip DDR2 memory controller is also said to be more effective while also friendlier to battery life.
The mainboard chipset for "Puma," so far called the RS790, is equally built to be faster and more efficient. Even basic systems will have access to a new integrated graphics chipset with unified shader support for DirectX 10 and OpenGL; the hardware will include a Unified Video Decoder that both greatly improves Blu-Ray/HD DVD decoding and also saves power by taking the intensive work away from the main CPU. Support for the faster PCI Express 2.0 standard will also be built-in for dedicated graphics -- including AMD's rival NVIDIA, the company notes -- and will intelligently switch back to integrated graphics to once again conserve power. DVI, HDMI, and the upcoming DisplayPort format will be explicitly supported.
Outside of graphics, AMD will also nod towards Intel's Turbo Memory with HyperFlash, a flash memory cache built on to the mainboard for speeding up boot times and responsiveness in Windows Vista and similar operating systems.
Details were still early with the announcement, but were expected to receive some clarification with a presentation at the Spring Microprocessor Forum on May 22nd. Actual shipping notebooks are planned for a mid-2008 release.