Advanced Micro Devices is undaunted by rival Intel's recent headline-grabbing announcements of 45-nm (nanometer) processing technology and a deal to supply Xeon chips to Sun Microsystems.
Interviewed at the DesignCon 2007 conference in Santa Clara, California, this week, Steve Polzin, chief platform architect in the Computation Products Group at AMD, said his company would, in time, also use 45-nm manufacturing technology through its alliances with Sony, Toshiba, and IBM.
"We have access to very similar technology that we'll be able to use in 45-nm," Polzin said. "It's a weapon in our arsenal."
Intel sent tremors through the hypercompetitive chip market last week when it made good on promises to begin producing 45-nm chips by the second half of this year. More concerning for AMD, Intel said the new chips would consume less energy and generate less heat than existing chips, thanks to a new material dubbed " high-k " that is used in the insulating material for transistors.
Polzin would not commit on a time frame for when AMD would use 45-nm, except to say that the company would do so "when it makes sense." AMD currently uses 65-nm processing technology in its Opteron CPU line.
"Pushing technology for technology's sake is not what we do," Polzin said. The 45-nm technology will be applicable from systems ranging from laptops to datacenters, he said.
Intel does not have a big jump on AMD, said analyst Mary Olsson of Gary Smith EDA, and 45-nm systems will not be heavily used for three to four years.
As for Sun's deal to use Intel CPUs after having relied on only AMD for x86 chips, Polzin said the arrangement was not unexpected, with Intel now leveraging AMD-championed technology in Xeon.
"We knew that one of the key factors that attracted Sun to AMD was the 64-bit extensions to x86," Polzin said. "AMD64 is great technology. Intel decided to copy it, so what the heck."
Sun, as an AMD customer, is free to choose whichever suppliers it wants, Polzin said, adding that Sun is one of its "very valued customers" and that the companies still work closely.
At the conference, Polzin cited the evolution of processors, which have grown from 16-bit to 32-bit and 64-bit units. Multicore processors also have arrived, he noted. The company plans its quad-processor Opteron offerings for a midyear release. Eight-core chips are on the drawing board as well.
In 2009, the company plans to offer graphics processors and CPUs on the same chip as part of its Fusion initiative. This technology will be offered in the mobile Turion chip, Polzin said.