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AMD - The Road Ahead

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Yesterday, AMD swept me away from my usual schedule of slaving over a hot test bed to attend Semicon Europe in Munich, Germany. I was surprised to find that I was the only journalist from the UK invited, so remember that you read it here first!

Semicon itself was completely boring, as all of the stalls were promoting the actual nuts and bolts that piece the semiconductor manufacturing industry together. However, AMD was holding a press conference to discuss its transition to the 65nm fabrication process, AM2 and the opening of the Fab 36 in Dresden.

As well as the presentation, I also had time for a brief one on one with Jochen Polster, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Worldwide Infrastructure Partnerships. I managed to get a pretty good indication of where AMD is right now and where it's heading.

A die shrink is always exciting as it generally means higher frequencies and lower power consumption – both aspects that should be high on anyone’s priority list. At the briefing AMD made a strong emphasis on Performance per Watt, power consumption and heat – all areas that the company is currently leading in. Although no one at AMD would give me any frequencies, they did disclose that a 65W dual core Opteron with Virtualisation support using a 65nm manufacturing process was on the horizon.

The good news is that AMD is already producing 65nm and has been able to since June 2005. However, we won’t see a substantial production ramp until mid-way through 2006. Being realistic, that means the likes of you and I won’t see processors until early 2007. AMD was quite interested in drawing attention to a 45nm wafer that was on display - this was manufactured earlier this year in January. Of course, short of whipping out an electron microscope, I could only take AMD's word that it was a 45nm wafer, but it’s good to know it's looking to the future.

AMD was keen to show off its intelligent plant design, but we’ll save you the lecture and just tell you that it’s considerably more efficient - enabling AMD to increase production output. This has meant an increase in monthly wafer production by 80 per cent and that’s not including the new Fab 36. With Fab 36 in place AMD is hoping to double production by 2008. AMD is also going to be farming out some of its work to Chartered semiconductor manufacturing. It could well be that AMD will finally be in a position to produce the volume required by the likes of Dell.

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