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AMD to launch 'Puma' laptop platform next month

Challenging Centrino 2

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Intel may be gearing up to release Centrino 2, but let's not forget its arch-rival, AMD, is to release a notebook platform of its own, codenamed 'Puma'. The cat will be let out of the bag at Computex, in Taipei on 3 June.

So what's AMD going to announce? Puma comprises a new (ish) processor, 'Griffin', and AMD's 780M chipset. Griffin is a dual-core part based around a couple of old Turion 'K8'A-class cores. Unlike existing Turion chips, Griffin was design specifically for laptops and so features extra, mobile-friendly circuitry for better power management.

Indeed, power rather than performance is Griffin's watchword, though we expect it will still push past AMD's current mobile CPUs when the speeds and feeds are announced in June.

Griffin is expected to contain at least 2MB of L2 cache, with each core having 1MB all to itself. The two cores will be able to run at different clock speeds, allowing either or both to slow down - as far as 300MHz - when their workload lightens.

Griffin's northbridge circuitry combines the usual HyperTransport 3 controller and a DDR 2 memory manager capable of handling 667MHz and 800MHz memory, AMD has said in the past. These elements and the CPU cores all operate on separate voltage planes, to allow unneeded components to power down.

So if the 780M's DirectX 10 integrated graphics is churning through HD content, the CPUs can slow right down or go to sleep without affecting the memory controller's ability to keep the GPU fed with video data.

Likewise the bandwidth made available by the HyperTransport controller can be squeezed according to need, reducing the power required to support in-bound data, out-bound data or both.

The 780M's graphics core will work with a discrete graphics chip, if one's present, to render all the basic stuff and leave the main GPU to power right down until its needed for 3D rendering. Again, that should boost the battery life of Puma-based systems.

The 780M - or, possibly, the M780 - will also incorporate AMD's SB700 chipset, which can link in up to 14 USB ports, six SATA ports and parallel ATA devices, and provide HD audio.

A once touted Puma component was HyperFlash, AMD's answer to Intel's TurboMemory: a Flash-fitted module that provides a small chunk of solid-state storage for Windows Vista's ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive technologies to make use of.

Turbo Memory is available in a fair few top-end notebooks, but it's largely failed to grab attention as a performance booster that Intel may have hoped it would. Partly that's because of corporate indifference to Vista - though this may change now Service Pack 1 is here, and AMD is likely to want to tap into that with HyperFlash.

Support for HyperFlash is integrated into the SB700.

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