AMD Flip-Flops: Llano Later, Bobcat Bounding Forward - HotHardware
AMD Flip-Flops: Llano Later, Bobcat Bounding Forward

AMD Flip-Flops: Llano Later, Bobcat Bounding Forward

One of the major points of AMD's conference call (we apologize for missing it) was news that the company's Llano processor—a hybrid GPU/CPU product meant to clock in over 3GHz in dual-core and quad-core configurations—has been pushed back into the first half of 2011. Company CEO Dirk Meyer delivered the news on Thursday, even as he highlighted the company's positive quarter and improving revenue streams.

The news isn't all bad. Even as he informed the press that Llano could ship as much as six months behind schedule, Meyer made a point of noting that the company's next-generation Ontario processor will ship for revenue beginning in Q4 of 2010. Up until now, Ontario wasn't expected until later in 2011; AMD has neatly swapped the positions of the two products.

As for why the delay exists in the first place, Meyer claims that Llano wasn't hitting AMD's internal yield targets. The CEO implied that the decision to move Ontario forward was partly because that particular CPU is scaling and yielding well, even as Llano suffers growing pains. Ontario, for those of you who don't know, will be the first iteration of AMD's Bobcat core. Bobcat is a completely new architecture that targets 1-10W systems; the CPU includes an integrated DX11 GUP and supports DDR3 RAM. We're quite curious as to the reason AMD has had to push back Llano but felt confident pulling Bobcat into 2010, but AMD isn't giving details at this point. With CPUs only shipping for revenue in Q4 it's unlikely that we'll see any Ontario-powered netbooks in time for Christmas, but Sunnyvale's new low-power out-of-order CPU could give Atom a real headache come Q2 2011.

The one thing AMD hasn't mentioned is Bulldozer. Presumably that's because these changes haven't impacted that processor's ramp. Theoretically, it shouldn't—Bobcat, Llano, and Bulldozer are three separate, distinctly different cores. Bulldozer is meant for the high-end server room, Bobcat is a new-from-the-ground-up low power design, and Llano is a 32nm Phenom II processor married to a DX11 GPU.

The $64,000 question AMD isn't talking about (yet) is whether or not it intends to bring Bulldozer to desktops in 2011. Sunnyvale's roadmap has always shown Llano as a mainstream part (presumably on its own socket) through next year, with Bulldozer inheriting Socket AM3 and the enthusiast product lines. If Bulldozer ends up delayed for the same reasons as Llano, it implies that Thuban will have to carry AMD's desktop product division through the first half of the year, with growing support from Llano at the low-end/mid-range as the year progresses.

Analysts, meanwhile, weren't buying AMD's spin that Ontario's accelerated launch was the real news event. The company was downgraded by several analysts once Wall Street opened on Friday, with several others maintaining their ratings but emphasizing increased caution. Coming as it does on the heels of Intel's statements regarding an accelerated Sandy Bridge launch, there's concern in multiple corners that AMD simply may be unable to execute its technology roadmap. We'd like to think Ontario's introduction will be momentous enough to outweigh Llano's delay, but it's not an even trade, no matter how much AMD might wish it was.
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A little disappointed. The Llano processor is of most interest to me, especially since its release is coupled with next gen ATI graphics.

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I didn't even know of the Ontario chip's existance.

I wonder how well it will fair against the Atom.

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Either equal with the Atom's or slightly worse with the Atom's.

Still, I'm interested in what Llano can bring to the table, in addition to the DX11 GPU of course.

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TaylorKarras:

Either equal with the Atom's or slightly worse with the Atom's.

LOL! What faith in AMD... apparantly there is no chance they can do better than the Atom. Equal are lesser... they cannot be greater lol

I think AMD is capable of putting out a chip better than the Atom... we'll see what happens tho...

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Hopefully AMD can continue to execute. I expect big things from Llano as well as this was all part of the ATI acquisition. This is where separation should occur IMO.

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I hope that they do well. They're our first line of defense against out of control CPU prices.

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Wait, I'm confused now. Look at this:

"Bobcat is a completely new architecture that targets 1-10W systems; the CPU includes an integrated DX11 GUP" and "Llano processor—a hybrid GPU/CPU product." So what will be so special about Llano, if Bobcat will also have an integrated GPU?

Either way, I think Bobcat can be much better than the Atom. Even if the techical benchmarked performance is equal or lesser, DX11 mean much better integrated graphics performance (as in, better-looking). I too am waiting for Llano, to see if the acquisition was worth it.

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Well if AMD can surpass Intel on the performance side rather then the graphics side then we'll have a winner here Nethersprite.

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Bobcat is aimed at the entry level market. It'll be in netbooks, might make it's way into some NAS devices, small HTPCs, and other devices of the sorts that don't need huge processing power. And with a low power draw it can be energy efficient and save you a lot of battery life.

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As far as it goes on the was ATI worth it question I would say that has to be a resounding yes. I say this because since Core 2 hit the market AMD lost a lot of market share, of course it has improved by now (I am talking several years back), but they were (as you can tell by the money, or better yet loss trail), and as the announcements have shown are now almost out of the woods (of financial losses). However; I don't like the sounding uncertainty these statements give off. If they again cannot execute (such as Phenom 1), they will be back in the gutter as a company. This may be bad if so because they're coming out of it, and seemingly in a strong fashion, at least so it sounded up until now. I hope I am reading to much into this. If they start messing up again the banks/financiers are going to be much less forgiving I would think than last times. They also do not have quite as much to spin off or change in the way of corporate assets now (After already splitting Global Foundries).

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All,

The question isn't whether AMD can build a faster CPU than Atom (anyone can). The question is whether AMD can build a faster chip than Atom and stay within the same power envelope. If all Intel had wanted was a low-power chip, they would never have introduced Atom in the first place. Atom was built specifically to hit lower power requirements than a standard x86 CPU could address.

Rapid1: As of yet, AMD/ATI has yet to demonstrate a product or advance that could not have come from keeping the two companies separate. There's no secret ATI sauce in modern AMD CPUs; there's no secret AMD sauce in modern ATI GPUs.

Netherspite,

Bobcat is a 1-10W ultra-low-power / ultra-low-power-consumption chip. It'll be in netbooks, bottom-end notebooks, maybe some large handhelds given time. Llano is a K10 derivative with a beefier integrated GPU. It sits above Bobcat.

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Here's the simple answer to the question of why Llano is delayed and Ontario bumped up :

Llano -> produced by GlobalFoundries, Ontario -> produced by TSMC

GlobalFoundries, a company that overpromises and underdelivers, spends the last year hobnobbing with Arab oil sheiks and going on Asian shopping sprees with their money, then suddenly realizes that 32nm development is more complicated than having IBM fax over their latest HKMG process flow. Stay tuned for further Llano delays.

TSMC, a company that underpromises and overdelivers, identifies yield issues and warns its customers a year ago, then spends the time in between hitting the grindstone to get it right, resulting in the only viable 40nm process in the foundry industry. Ontario schedule bumped up from 2011 to 2010.

Personally, I give GlobalFoundries another 2-3 years before Abu Dhabi pulls the plug.

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