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When Titans Join Forces: Implications of the AMD-ATI Merger
By Vijay Anand - 24 Sep 2006,12:00am

Future Plans and Possibilities

Future Plans and Possibilities

HWZ: AMD has been talking about an upcoming open architecture system codenamed Torrenza for sometime. Could you help elaborate to our readers what does AMD hope to achieve with this platform and how does it fit the new company merger now that ATI is part of AMD? How would it play out for other system component providers? How keen would they be to support this initiative or what would AMD do to entice them?

Low: Torrenza is a multiphase plan that will begin with AMD to encourage its partners to utilize its HyperTransport slot (HTX) to develop add-on cards or 'accelerators' for specialized use such as games, media encoding and decoding and scientific work. When these accelerators achieve broader appeal, AMD will help partners plug the accelerators into their motherboard via a socket that gives it direct access to the CPU. And the natural step after that is to package the accelerator with the chip, and ultimately into the die itself.

This fits into the acquisition as more companies can now play a part in 'designing' the processors with their accelerators. Torrenza is the realization of AMD's long-term plan to create an open and extensible microarchitecture for its chip.

Through our feedback from our system component providers and our philosophy of open standards and open ecosystem, we believe they will be keen to support this initiative.

The possibilities of the Torrenza initiative are as shown in this simplified slide from AMD. As you can see, it depicts where these future third-party 'accelerators' can be accommodated in this extensible architecture depending on technology progression and the audience it addresses.

HWZ: Would AMD's merger with ATI affect the current ties with existing platform providers? E.g. NVIDIA, VIA, SiS and others?

Low: Our goal is to deliver the right solution for each of our customers. We will continue to work closely with NIVIDA, VIA, SiS and other partners.

We believe that our collaboration with customers and industry partners, including some who offer competing products to our offerings, will continue as part of our effort to champion choice in global markets and to deliver preeminent solutions and products for computing and consumer electronics to our customer across all product markets.


HWZ: With the AMD-ATI merger, AMD has also mentioned of tighter integrated platforms and the possibility of a CPU and GPU to coexist on the same die or packaging. With multi-core processors on the horizon, we can certainly see the possibility opening up, but how feasible is this and how would AMD plan and execute such a paradigm shift?

Low: This is feasible through AMD's take in a modular approach to designing its upcoming processors. We are taking a "Lego design" approach where features are compartmentalized so that they can be mixed and matched. Features such as memory controller, I/O interfaces, clocks, HyperTransport and caches are now independent blocks that can accompany or be removed from the processors.

This technology will place an importance in making Torrenza work, as this will allow integration and removal of third party accelerators from its processors without making any major changes to the chip. AMD has already developed a seamless means of making the components communicate with each other.

Should the GPU successfully make the shift to one of the 'cores' of a CPU chip in the future, who knows, we might just experience the power of a Radeon X1950 XTX without having a discrete graphics card. Of course by then, truly discrete graphics cards would have made even further advances!

HWZ: How would this affect ATI's graphics plans in the future?

Low: This acquisition allows ATI's graphics plans to be fully integrated into the processors in the future, offering more variants for commercial client, mobile computing, gaming and media computing.


HWZ: At the moment, we understand that all production arrangements would be as they are for both AMD and ATI. Would ATI be utilizing any of AMD's fab facilities in the near future?

Low: We do not rule out any possibility of that, but at this moment, we are not doing so.


HWZ: Where do you see AMD to be in the next 5 years?

Low: The next few years will be exciting for AMD. We will be recognized as the industry leader in providing customer-centric solutions. Based on our current success and the technologies that we plan to introduce, you'll hear more exciting announcements from us. Stay tuned!

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