AMD strongarms into low-power handhelds
Updated Intel isn't alone in integrated wireless technologies into mobile chipsets with its forthcoming Banias processor. AMD says the first fruits of its Alchemy acquisition are now sampling, tieing 802.11 wireless to a low-power, MIPS core. Alchemy was founded by Rich Witek, the brains behind the StrongARMs and one of the designers of DEC's Alpha processor.
AMD acquired Alchemy in February this year and gave Witek a fantastic honorary title - as is right and proper - in September.
Witek's team have produced a transceiver (Am1770) and baseband processor (Am1771) that combine into a two-chip design suitable for integrated chipsets or PC-card make for a much lower power design than rivals can offer. So AMD says.
AMD expects tablet and embedded to be potential customers. AMD already has a system on a chip: Au1500 supports PCI, PC Card and USB buses, along with much else. It looks very interesting indeed: AMD reckons that a 500MHz part consumes no more than 1.2 watts.
Dan Perkins told us that AMD intends to integrate the chips announced today into a SOC, but we were a little premature in suggesting that they've already got there.
"We do plan to integrate the Baseband and MAC function into the AMD Alchemy Solutions AuXXX SOC processor core in the second half of next year, but have not disclosed the other integrated peripherals, performance or power requirements of that SOC."
Witek's beautiful baby StrongARM was acquired by Intel in 1997, and Chipzilla rechristened the technology "XScale", at a stroke destroying all of the brand equity associated with the most highly regarded implementation of the world's most popular instruction set (ARM). Such rebranding decisions are made by extremely clever marketing MBAs, so it's not for the likes of us to question their wisdom.
XScale has improved immensely, but lags far behind Texas Instruments' OMAP in the phone and smart handheld market.®
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