AMD pushes embedded chips with faster Geode

AMD now shipping samples of the new Geode chip, with plans to reach full production during the first quarter

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) launched a new model of its Geode processor and added eight more chips to its longevity program, pledging to keep them in production for at least five years to support long-lived products like 3G telephony base stations.

AMD on Monday announced the 1.5-watt Geode LX900 embedded processor, a more powerful version of its 0.9-watt predecessor, the LX800. By holding its power below 5 watts, the Geode chip needs no fan or heat sink, allowing designers to create small-sized designs for kiosks and cash registers, as well as larger platforms like set-top boxes, numeric keypads and entertainment platforms.

The Geode is also expected to power the US$100 laptop for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, and is already specified in thin-client PCs from ClearCube Technology, Hewlett-Packard and Wyse Technology.

AMD has two thrusts in its embedded computing business, said Jeff Chu, division manager of AMD's embedded solution team. The company will target very low-wattage platforms like single board computers with sub-five watt chips like the Geode, and will extend its work on commercial Athlon, Opteron, Sempron and Turion chips for new applications such as telecommunications and commercial storage.

Already, AMD's embedded chips are used in platforms like single board computers from LiPPERT Embedded Computers, NAS (network attached storage) platforms from Adaptec, enterprise storage products from Network Appliance and ATCA (advanced telecom computing architecture) platforms from Sun Microsystems.

Still, many embedded product designers pass up x86-style processors from AMD and Intel in favour of Arm, MIPS or PowerPC chips. Now AMD hopes to change their minds by expanding its longevity program to include nearly 30 chips. AMD Monday added six models of Rev-F Opteron, a dual-core and single-core Athlon chip and the new Geode to the program.

AMD guarantees a supply of these chips for five years, far longer than the typical nine months it takes vendors to create new models of commercial products for the consumer market, Chu said.

By adding a range of 45- to 68-watt Opteron server chip to this class, AMD is reaching for the high end of the embedded market, pitching the processors for tasks like storage and telecommunications, security, medical imaging and military systems. The company plans to position its 35-watt Athlon chips for the same markets, as well as thin-client computers and gaming systems.

AMD is now shipping samples of the new Geode chip, with plans to reach full production during the first quarter. The company does not release prices for its embedded processors.

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