On AMD’s Financial Analyst Day 2010 held yesterday in Sunnyvale, CA, AMD demonstrated its confidence in the future. The company gave out multiple codenames of the products that are going to arrive on the market in 2011, 2013, 2014 and onwards.
But what was most interesting of them all was that AMD, after spending half a decade per CPU architecture [or more] is accelerating into developing new CPU architecture every other year. Much alike Intel’s Tick-Tock cadence, AMD is now shifting into delivering a new architecture in uneven year [2011, 2013], and a refresh in pair year [2012, 2014].
AMD’s vision of their CPU architecture
During his session, Chekib Arkout [Senior Vice President, Technology Group] announced that both Bulldozer and Bobcat cores will last for a single year only – to be replaced with an architectural refresh in 2012. In 2013, only two years after the introduction of Bulldozer/Bobcat, AMD will unveil new microarchitecture currently called "New Bulldozer Architecture".
This represents a major shift in AMD’s policy, especially when we look at AMD’s track record: the company launched 32-bit K7 architecture in 1999, 64-bit Hammer / K8 came in 2003, Barcelona / K10 [essentially a quad-core K8] came out in 2008, and fixed Barcelona – Shanghai i.e. K10.5 came out in 2009.
AMD Bulldozer is set to debut in 2H 2011 with Interlagos and Valencia, followed by Enhanced Bulldozer in 2012 [10 Core Sepang and 20 Core Terramar]
When AMD scrapped the original Bulldozer architecture in 2008 and started working on new Bulldozer architecture, the gap between two completely new architectures grew to massive eight years and many thought that AMD can be written off. However, the acquisition of ATI Technologies and the integration of experienced GPU veterans obviously gave company wings. ATI was always in the battle to become the best [GPU manufacturer], while a lot of AMD CPU division just didn’t had the stride for excellence and were happy with "second best" [CPU manufacturer]. That is obviously changing now, and the company is executing more like a GPU manufacturer than a CPU one.
2012 will see the introduction of "Enhanced Bulldozer" using the codenames of two more racing tracks. Sepang is the home of Malaysian Grand Prix in Formula 1, but dual Sepang processor, 20-core Terramar carries the name of a racetrack that hosted just a single race, before getting shut down. Terramar is located couple of kilometers/miles from Barcelona to the west, between two small cities: Sitges and Sant Pedre de Ribes.
AMD Fusion Roadmap: 40nm, 32nm, 28nm, 20nm and 14nm on the roadmap: Note that products based on 22nm and 16nm processes by GlobalFoundries are MIA
When we take a look at Fusion roadmap, you can see that the company plans to continue its dual-manufacturer policy with GlobalFoundries and TSMC battling for AMD’s business [going single supplier can only damage your balance sheet, not strengthen it – thus, consider rumors about AMD going exclusive to be just that – rumors]. AMD plans to use half-node for Bobcat-based Fusion APUs in the future as well, with 28nm Fusion arriving in 1H 2012, 20nm in 2H 2013 and 14nm in second half of 2015.
Can they sustain the increased pace? Only time will tell. Even Intel slipped by a quarter with their Nehalem and Sandy Bridge architectures.