AMD Launches First Thoroughbred

By Van Smith

Date: April 17, 2002

One of the more eagerly awaited product launches occurred at WinHEC today with AMD’s release of the 0.13 micron Thoroughbred. As with the Palomino introduction, AMD has wisely chosen to first ramp production of its new product into the higher margin atmosphere of the mobile space. Doing so buoys ASPs while allowing the chipmaker to maintain pricing on existing desktop Palomino technology.

With the Thoroughbred’s debut, AMD has rechristened its mobile line “Athlon XP” to bring its mobile strategies in concert with its highly successful desktop offerings. Additionally, AMD has increased the Front-Side Bus (FSB) speeds up to 266 MHz, also in parity with its desktop parts.

In a significant marketing change, AMD has adopted the same model number rating scheme for mobile Athlon XPs as with its desktop parts. In other words, there is no longer a separate standard of comparison for determining the model rating for mobile Athlons – a desktop Athlon XP 1800+ will run at the same clock speed (and FSB) as a mobile Athlon XP 1800+.

AMD anticipates that OEMs will quickly introduce DDR SDRAM with new Athlon  XP laptops. While doubling bandwidth is the most obvious advantage of DDR SDRAM, the memory technology is also considerably more power efficient than SDRAM. Availability of DDR SDRAM in AMD Athlon XP-based mobile products is therefore a double win for the consumer.

The first product produced on AMD’s new 0.13-micron copper process, the Thoroughbred enjoys more than a substantial die shrink to a tiny 80 square millimeters. With its lower power consumption characteristics, the Thoroughbred will open up the first real opportunities for AMD in the ultra light mobile categories.

Mobile markets have been very successful for AMD since the introduction of the Athlon 4 roughly a year ago. AMD now boasts mobile wins of Compaq, Sony, HP, NEC, Hitachi, Sharp, Epson Direct and Fujitsu.

Also of interest, AMD has tweaked Barton, the rapid-fire successor to Thoroughbred. Instead of using AMD's slightly pricier SOI (Silicon-on-Insulator) technology now debuting with Hammer, Barton will be produced with the same 0.13 copper Thoroughbred-style process. However, Barton's L2 cache doubles its predecessor's from 256kB to 512kB, which should bring significant performance improvements to programs utilizing larger datasets. AMD also hinted at possible tweaks to boost Barton's clock speed beyond Thoroughbred's.

AMD gave detailed Mobile Athlon XP briefings Monday at WinHEC. Behind closed doors and under NDA, the chipmaker also delivered some of the most interesting and exciting news of WinHEC. AMD will publicly announce details of these confidential disclosures in the coming weeks.


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