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A Green Plague On All Your Houses

On a more positive note, there's genuine excitement to be gleaned from the announcement that, yes, AMD will be taking on Intel's ultra low-power Atom CPU, in the form of the Conesus, codenamed, CPU. It's a dual-core chip that will feature 1MB of cache and support DDR2 RAM and will come in two formats. One will come in a small Ball Grid Array (BGA) package, just like Atom, and will target the netbook market, while a second larger version will be for conventional ultra-portable notebooks. All of which sounds rather promising.

Likewise, the news that a combined CPU and GPU chip is still under developement, under the codename Ontario, is encouraging. Though, the fact the similar Shrike project we initially heard so much about has now been canned doesn't exactly garner confidence in the arrival of Ontario at all, let alone imminently.

And it's this fact that tarnishes all the announcements, bar Shanghai, that AMD has made this past week - AMD so often promises lots and delivers little. From the initial delays to Phenom, that allowed Intel to leap so far into the lead on the desktop CPU performance front, to the complete lack of any subsequent news on the very exciting XGP project (you know, the one that proposed using an external graphics card for playing games on your notebook). It's happened time and time again and it does little to bolster customer relations, not to mention confidence in us journalists.

So what does the future hold for AMD? Well actually, probably nothing too dramatic in the near future. It's had plenty of rough patches and it may have many more to come but the industry would simply not function if AMD were to fold. While it's desktop and mobile CPUs may seem not to offer much competition for Intel at the moment, the simple fact they are here keeps both companies pushing forward scientific frontiers and innovating, which in the end is what we all want.

For the time being, the time to really pay attention to the AMD front will be this coming CES when its 45nm desktop (Deneb) processors launch, possibly along with early demos of its new netbook CPU. They probably won't beat Intel's current solutions but maybe, just maybe they will and we can finally sleep easily in the knowledge that what happened all those years ago wasn't a dream after all. It was real and it was good.

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