Bulldozer has taped out, the earth has moved

More analyst day dirt dug up

THREE VERY INTERESTING tidbits snuck out in the Q&A session at the AMD analyst day today. It seems that Fusion and the new cores have taped out and are at the fabs.

The new cores were said to begin sampling to OEMs in 2010. When pressed on the timing of tapeouts, one AMD spokesperson said that the fabs were ‘running product now’. That means the chips have taped out and the fun is about to begin.

Next up was the process the Fusion cores will be on. The first of them will be made on a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) process, something that makes a lot of sense. It is much easier to port a GPU from bulk silicon to SOI than to do things the other way around. The answer did not preclude bulk silicon variants of Fusion in the future, but since the first generation cores are not made on it, I would not expect that to happen for a while.

The last bit was confirmation of what we have know, or at least have strongly suspected for a while, that the first generation of Fusion products will be a ‘stars’ core. The optimistic view of this is that AMD is reusing the old K10 variant for time to market reasons. Basically the uncore was done first, and since it is modular, why not use it?

If you are pessimistic, you could see this as the Bulldozer and Bobcat cores being massively late. Given that they were on the roadmap for 45nm and delayed about 2 years ago to 32nm, this has a ring of truth to it. Because it was a planned move, and one that rationalizes a likely untenable earlier schedule, I don’t think this is a delay, or even a bad thing. The ‘delay’ probably avoided another “Barcelona”.

In the end, it looks like AMD is on track. 2010 will likely be full of pain, but you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The first of the new parts have taped out, so it is only a matter of time before details start leaking. Then we will know if the grand plan is working, at least on a technical level.S|A

Update: The chip that taped out was Llano, not Bulldozer. The wording in the call was confusing. Sorry for the error.

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 Bulldozer has taped out, the earth has moved

Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.