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End of the Road For AMD's Geode Chip

timothy posted more than 5 years ago

AMD 123

An anonymous reader writes "AMD has no replacement planned for the aging Geode low-power chip, creating uncertainty for its use in products like future XO laptops made by One Laptop Per Child. There won't be a Geode successor and the company has no core microarchitecture planned to replace the chip, AMD executives said. The comments end speculation about the future of Geode, an integrated chip used in netbooks like OLPC's XO laptop, ultramobile PCs and devices like set-top boxes."

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last post. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26622251)

last post... ever made with a geode...

Re:last post. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622917)

I want to know... who was the genius that came up with the "geode" name? I mean, it sounds like "choad". Technical merits aside, I could never give it any respect with that name.

Re:last post. (5, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623029)

I could never give it any respect with that name.

Yeah Mr Bagina, that's a real problem...

Re:last post. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623513)

I could never give it any respect with that name.

Yeah Mr Bagina, that's a real problem...

Just ask his sister Mulva.

Re:last post. (3, Informative)

protobion (870000) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623505)

Proocessor->silicon->sand->minerals->rock-> Geode [wikipedia.org]...get it ?

Re:last post. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26629255)

Not to mention AMD Google [google.com] it off of National Semiconductor who had already named it, so it wasn't their idea, they just stuck with the name. That said it looks like AMD is IMHO getting more and more marginalized in the market. Laptops are replacing desktops(and they have never been a big player in mobile CPUs) and in this lousy economy the Netbook/Nettop lines seem to be the only PCs that are moving and they don't have anything to compete with either the Atom or the Via Nano. And with them still bleeding money from overpaying for ATI I don't see them coming up with the funds to come up with chips to compete in these areas(which from TFA they aren't going to try) and they are currently getting beaten in performance by the Core series on the desktop, not to mention i7 waiting in the wings for the economy to pick up.

While I really hope they survive, if for no other reason than I remember what prices were like when Intel was the only game in town, I honestly think the days of AMD competing head to head with Intel are gone for the foreseeable future. I personally believe that AMD will end up back to the way it was when they first launched, which was a cheap CPU for those that couldn't afford the bucks to go with Intel. But of course with the prices on entry level Intel chips being so cheap that is going to be a tight spot to be in, profit wise. The gains that ATI have made against Nvidia(and the clusterfuck that was the Nvidia bad chip fiasco certainly helped them) will help but I don't know how they are going to stay afloat with so many going towards markets that they just aren't strong in.

While I am sure there will always be desktops, I personally think that barring some new "killer app" that most are happy with the performance they have now and the days of the three year upgrade cycle are finally over. I just really wouldn't want to be in AMD's shoes right now, because I don't see desktops moving enough units to help them out of their losses.

Re:last post. (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624105)

Wow. You seriously think it sounds like "choad" (which is a "word" only if we stretch the definition for "words")? I congratulate your grasp of the English vocabulary & pronunciation. Well, at least you know how to pronounce vagina in order to come up with such a clever, CLEVER nickname!

Re:last post. (0, Troll)

edittard (805475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626313)

Someone who missed the 'k' off the end of his username is in no position to throw stones at somebody else's kettle of fish.

Re:last post. (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626653)

Haha, nice troll. What do you expect me to answer? That someone missing the "re" in the middle of their username is in no position to throw stones etc?
I found that the geode -> choad association is at most a "Beavis-level" association and I commented on that. If you feel differently, come up with a more insightful answer than lame, grade school attempts at insulting.

Re:last post. (-1, Troll)

edittard (805475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626779)

come up with a more insightful answer than lame, grade school attempts at insulting.

Going to make me, equaDORK?

first! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26622265)


Cyrix (1)

vil3nr0b (930195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622285)

What about transferring the job to Cyrix chips? With an Open Source installation there should be little problem transitioning.

Re:Cyrix (1)

attah (1217454) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622339)

Who the heck read my mind? I was even considering mailing AMD yesterday to find out this very thing. Now I'll get one for sure. But anyways.. Wouldn't iyt be very neat to have a 45 nm gedode LX X4 or something along these lines... Most beautiful creation ever i'm sure..

Reminds me of the news abous Ms FlighSim (2, Informative)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622527)

FlightSim is dead. Cyrix is dead.

FTA: "Geode's origins can be traced back to the mid-90s when Cyrix developed the MediaGX integrated chip for sub-US$1,000 mainstream PCs, according to McCarron. Cyrix merged with National Semiconductor in 1999 and developed the first Geode chips for embedded devices from MediaGX design. AMD ultimately bought the Geode business from National Semiconductor in 2003" See also wikipedia, of course.

Sad how so many big companies buy these 'niche' technologies then 'manage' them into a smoking hole in the ground...

Re:Reminds me of the news abous Ms FlighSim (1)

vil3nr0b (930195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622877)

would it be unreasonable for companies to release end of the road chipset development including all engineering white papers, etc.? Especially those companies who found a niche market and pissed it all away? I just can't help but think someone would be interested. Copyrights, etc. be damned because the money has already been made.

Re:Reminds me of the news abous Ms FlighSim (1)

mrops (927562) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623707)

get your SBC based on geode while they last www.pcengines.ch

Re:Cyrix (0, Flamebait)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623007)

Kinda funny. Via is getting more buzz with C3 and Eden. Intel is getting lots of buzz with Atom. AMD is giving up the market... I want a CEO job so I can go to work drunk too...

Re:Cyrix (4, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623419)

I would suggest VIA Nano processors [via.com.tw]. Their L2200 chip sports these features:
  • Speed: 1.6 GHz
  • FSB: 800 MHz
  • Process: 65 nm
  • Idle Power: 100 mW

Pretty decent specs for mini-notebooks and such.

Re:Cyrix (2, Interesting)

Piranhaa (672441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624311)

Don't forget they have hardware cryptography as well - C3 or C7 was the first to include it. It uses the cycles as a way to randomize too. OpenBSD (for sure) takes advantage of this and uses it well. Encrypted tunnels, file system encryption, random number generation, etc. all put a LOT less strain on the CPU in comparison to other processors (especially embedded).

Re:Cyrix (2)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626231)

I didn't know about this feature set before, and appreciate the information. A little research on Google led me to a page on padlock [gsp.com], a "driver for the cryptographic functions and RNG in VIA C3, C7 and Eden processors."

From the description: "The C3 and Eden processor series from VIA include hardware acceleration for AES. The C7 series includes hardware acceleration for AES, SHA1, SHA256 and RSA. All of the above processor series include a hardware random number generator.

The padlock driver registers itself to accelerate AES operations and if available HMAC/SHA1 and HMAC/SHA256 for crypto(4). It also registers itself to accelerate other HMAC algorithms, although there is no hardware acceleration for those algorithms. This is only needed, so padlock can work with fast_ipsec(4)."

Re:Cyrix (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626783)

Forget VIA, take a look at low end Semprons. They can idle at 1W, have excellent performance and best of start at £15. You then have your pick of socket AM2 motherboards, with chipsets like the 780g or 8200 offering things like 6+ SATA ports (for NAS) and hardware H.264/BluRay decoding.

Sure, you can save a tiny amount of electricity by spending a lot more money on a VIA system, but if you work out what it actually costs to run a Sempron for a year over a VIA Nano you quickly realise that it will take decades to recoup the extra initial outlay.

Re:Cyrix (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26632419)

VIA and ARM will rule the low power market.

I'm impressed by the nano. It's a tad heavy on power consumption, but the performance is great; beats Atoms.

But if power consumption is really a factor, there's no way to beat ARM SoCs. Those Cortex A8/A9 processors are fast, and some have TDPs under 0.1 watts. You can run the chips without a headsink, and they won't even heat up at full load.

oh dear (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622289)

Looks like the 3rd world will be running intels Classmate then :|

Re:oh dear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26625973)

They will be running Magalhães, that according to our Prime Minister is totally Portuguese Technology.

From (1)

Jamamala (983884) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622349)

from the no-dept. dept.

Re:From (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623631)

I was wondering about that. This is the first time I've ever seen story that hasn't been filed in some dept.

What's this place coming to?!

3Com's Audrey internet appliance (1)

VorlonFog (948943) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622419)

This futuristic device was one of the earliest commercial uses of the Geode chip. Unfortunately at $400 it was overpriced, and 3Com never supported the firmware developed for it.

Re:3Com's Audrey internet appliance (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622691)

Not familiar with it, but Soekris boxes [soekris.com] run just short of that (typically around $300), and they're extremely popular at those prices. I guess I'll have to place future orders with the knowledge that I'm buying discontinued stock.

Great Hobbyist Niche (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623639)

Yeah, and even lower than that are the ALIX boards from PC Engines. They are around $100-$135 for the board (add $25 for a case and AC-DC converter), and like the Soekris boxes come in smaller form factors than MiniITX.

I really hope that something fills the niche that the geode had. There aren't really any offerings using VIA or Atom processors at those prices and form factors. There are a ton of single-board-systems that use ARM or Freescale (which should be better picks anyway) but the fact is that not all software has as good of support for those other platforms as they do for x86, so for a hobbyist the geode boards often required less work to get running.

Re:Great Hobbyist Niche (1)

niko9 (315647) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624257)


I have been using a Geode based PC Engines board as my personal firewall (with m0n0wall) for years with nary a hiccup.
Recently I have been using a PC Engines ALIX board (also Geode based) as a dead silent USB music server for my audiophile setup. Considering
what some "high-end" manufactures (think Linn and Sonos) are charging for their music server solutions, mine was a steal at $135 for the board and one hour's time installing Voyage Linux. The whole server consumes a total of 3 watts when playing FLAC files.

These little boards are excellent little boards for the Linux hobbyist. The Geode will be missed.


Re:Great Hobbyist Niche (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26633347)

I have exactly the same setup. It sounds fantastic - good quality (Burr-Brown) audio device feeding an amplifier and decent speakers, for the price it was a steal. I just plugged in an IR receiver and set up lirc, so now the same remote control does both my amplifier volume and play/pause, plus a special button to announce the song name via festival.

Video appliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26624049)

I've been looking at those, but unfortunately they're not very good when it comes to video/audio decoding. The "Internet" appliance space already is pretty saturated since it's relatively easy to do. The multimedia appliance space is harder because either one needs a more powerful PC (meaning more heat, electricity, and noise), or a lower powered processor with dedicated ASICS and not many SBCs have those.

Re:3Com's Audrey internet appliance (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626033)

Yes, Soekris was the first I thought of too. I hope they'll find a good replacement. They're really nifty little boxes...

Geodes??? (0, Offtopic)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622427)

I wouldn't think a computer would run very well with this. I remember getting Geodes [tinyurl.com] for Christmas and they were pretty cool to break open and look inside, but I doubt it would be able to run a computer especially after hitting it with a hammer!!!

Odd (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622455)

Seems an odd decision when Intel is selling so many Atoms; the 'Athlon Neo' sounds interesting, but at 15W it's going to have a hard time competing with Atoms at 2-8W even with Intel's crappy inefficient chipsets attached to them.

Re:Odd (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622911)

That's exactly the problem though: at this price point, volume is critical. For AMD to make the Geode look attractive and get their volumes up, they'd have to pare their margins back to the bone, or perhaps even take a loss on each chip. Given the current climate, you can see why they don't want to take that gamble.

And if they were banking on the XO getting the volume up, well, we all know how that's panning out.

Re:Odd (2, Interesting)

default luser (529332) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626919)

Yes, but this is precisely the reason why AMD should drop the Geode. They haven't improved the microarchitecture much since it was purchased from NatSemi, and NatSemi just kept bolting-on crap to the MediaGX chip they bought from Cyrix.

In other words, the Geode today is the same-old architecture from 1997 (with a few tweaks and node shrinks). The problem is, this old microarchitecture targets the same market as ARM, but can't beat ARM's power consumption. In order to cash-in on the netbook craze, AMD would need a beter microarchitecture.

Take a look at the new chips from Via and Intel: the Atom isn't a speed demon, but it kicks the crap out of a Geode without using much more power. The Nano can't match the power consumption of the Atom, but it fills the gap between Atom and beefy desktop cores. What both chips bring to the table is REAL Windows on an ultraportable platform (Geode can't do this).

Intel and Via figured it out: the embedded processor cores from the 1990s were not going to cut-it. With the lessons learned from the last decade, both designed new processors for the netbook market, using two different methodologies. Unfortunately, if AMD wants to compete, they need an entirely new architecture, and they simply can't afford to make one. They can't afford two architectures like Intel, and they've decided that the server/desktop design path is more important than the netbook path.

I personally think it's the right choice - netbooks are a growing market, but there's very little money to be made, as the margins are tiny. The server market will always be growing, and will always be worth more money.

Are Intel and AMD the only CPUs in existence? (4, Informative)

CrashandDie (1114135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622501)

If you look at embedded devices or set-top boxes, you realise you don't really want Intel or AMD made CPUs. Look at most mobile devices, they all run OMAP-based devices (ARM), because of their energy efficiency and price. It also makes a helluva lot more sense to go with a SoC (System on Chip), as soon as power and size are even remotely factors in the decision making.

It's not because AMD drops out of the low-power energy manufacturing that the world is going to end, it just means they're focusing on things they're good at. I don't really ever remember AMDs being particularly energy-efficient, not nearly as what some VIA CPUs manage. I'm not talking about the Atom either, which is a whole different area.

Maybe I'm going completely bonkers, but if I were to build a low-power system, Intel and AMD would be last on my list, by quite a margin.

Re:Are Intel and AMD the only CPUs in existence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623055)

It depends on whether you needed an x86-compatible CPU or not. So basically, it depends on whether you want to run Windows (or Linux and absolutely need a Flash player) or not.

Geode CPUs are actually pretty decent as far as energy efficiency goes (for an x86-compatible anyway). Mostly, by not being particularly powerful or fast. Some of the Geode CPUs contain a lot of integrated peripherals (video, for example), so you can often get away with fewer components in the system. Not as much as a SoC, of course, but more than your typical x86-compatible has. As far as I know, they use less power than most of Via's CPUs, but they're a lot less powerful.

They aren't really in the same space as the Atom or Via C3, nor are they competing with ARM CPUs. They're kind of in the middle, and it looks like there's not much demand for them.

Re:Are Intel and AMD the only CPUs in existence? (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623105)

That's true, but the problem is that Windows won't run on anything but x86, and even Linux isn't nearly complete on the ARM as it is on x86. On top of that, things like PCIe and other expansion buses quite simply aren't available on non-x86 systems.

These chips aren't about embedded devices, but rather more like embedded computers, if you will. The aim is to give most of the features of a standard computer, including pretty good performance, RAM, etc, in a lower power way.

Re:Are Intel and AMD the only CPUs in existence? (1)

CrashandDie (1114135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623803)

Quite honestly, when you look at what a SoC can achieve these days, I wonder why you would even look at an "embedded computer". See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuVwh_VrIxk [youtube.com] for example.

I think we are getting to a point where we should starting to draw a line between PC and Embedded Device. Yes, both run Linux, and the support for say, ARM architectures is extremely good (go to http://packages.debian.org/stable/allpackages [debian.org] and pick one package at random, and fine one that's not available on ARM or ARMel). An embedded device is as powerful as a PC was a few years ago, and I don't really see that trend changing. I don't think anyone expects an embedded device to run as fast as a desktop computer, so the real quality is going to come from the applications that people are going to develop for them; regarless of the form factor. One example is the NIT http://linuxdevices.com/news/NS3555890464.html [linuxdevices.com]

Re:Are Intel and AMD the only CPUs in existence? (2, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26627981)

Linux on arm is improving but there are still problems.

One big one is the lack of FPU standards, that means that any general purpose linux distro for arm has to compromise in the floating point department. The old debian arm port is targeted at a FPU almost noone uses anymore meaning floating point generally has to be done through kernel emulation (which is encrediblly slow). The new debian armel port uses software floating point which is faster but still not brilliant. There was talk of offering optimised versions of some particularlly performance critical packages for the armel port but I don't think anything has come of that yet.

Another issue is java, some arm chips have java accelleration but sun and arm won't release the specs to allow them to be used by the likes of debian. Openjdk is availible on debian armel but it's interpreter only and so very slow (and arm chips aren't exactly speed demons to start with)

Another is flash, you can get an arm port for your device if you pay enough but the user will probablly never be able to update it.

Then there is acrobat reader, it is a bit bloated but i've never found another PDF reader that does as good a job when handling large documents.

So for a machine whose primary purpose is to be an internet terminal (portable or otherwise) I see a lot of advantages for going for a low power x86 chip like the atom or the C3.

Re:Are Intel and AMD the only CPUs in existence? (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623151)

That really depends on the use of the low power system. One of the big reasons to use X86 is simply Flash. If you want to use Flash going with the X86 is the path of least resistance.
So lets say you want to make a desktop box that can play YouTube, Hulu, and other media. If you build it with Linux and an X86 you will have no real technical issues getting it working.
VIA is an option but so is the Atom. If you are talking about a PDA/Cell device then I do agree that ARM rules but then those devices often don't support Flash.
As long as the latest Flash support is limited to Adobe blessed code X86 will have a big advantage for any device that browses the web.
Now if JavaFX catches on and gets ported everywhere. Or if Mono/Moonlight proves to not be some terrible plot by Microsoft then things could change.

Re:Are Intel and AMD the only CPUs in existence? (1)

Piranhaa (672441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624421)

Agreed. x86 sucks for HTPCs as well when you see what alternatives there are out there.

I picked up an iStar HD (similar to the Popcorn as they both run the NMT software). It includes an embedded Sigma Designs chip (same one found in some Blu-Ray players). It crunches through 1080P x264 like butter. The device also runs torrents, can connect/host NFS/samba shares, run Youtube/flckr, etc. While not the fastest for navigating, it comes to a measly $180 to purchase. Last time I checked, you couldn't buy a decent processor for much less than that. No memory, no video card, no case, and no powersupply needed. Good luck doing that with ANY x86 system at even 2x that cost!! Oh and almost forgot. It's smaller, but slightly thicker than a DVD case, makes virtually NO noise, and is a light as a book. Includes SATA, USB, Network. Has HDMI, VGA, Component, RCA, and optical output as well.

Re:Are Intel and AMD the only CPUs in existence? (1)

radish (98371) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625197)

I'm sure it's a nice device, but I think your pricing is a little off. I recently built a new server - AMD x64 with 2GB of RAM for around $100 (excluding storage, as I assume your device is diskless). In my case that was:

CPU $30
mobo $35
2GB ram $30

Plus shipping etc. I had a spare case/psu but otherwise you can get that for less than $50. Far from being underpowered the server is nice and fast (I'm sure it's faster in general use than your machine) and runs several linux VMs quite happily. I haven't tried it with HD video (I use it headless) but if the onboard isn't up to the job I'm sure a cheap nvidia or something would do it fine and still come in under $200 total.

So obviously these are very different boxes, and my server is certainly nowhere near as small or quiet as your device, but your whole "2x the cost" thing is really not true.

Re:Are Intel and AMD the only CPUs in existence? (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626383)

That looks like a nice box. How well does it work with a Media Server?

Re:Are Intel and AMD the only CPUs in existence? (1)

Piranhaa (672441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626871)

I don't like replying to my own replies BUT..

I have a networked ZFS 4TB Raid5 array setup for my media. I just setup the NFS mounts that way and it works great. Grabbing the file listing for the first time takes a little bit (30secs - 1min), but after that it is just as fast as browsing through a computer. It also exports the hard drive contents in a way the PS3 can view it as a media server as well (though I haven't had a need to use this) and I'm sure is nice if you have multiple TVs in the home - networked. I bought it because it's small, quiet, little power use and I can bring it with me everywhere.

They didn't cheap out on the cables either. The box included HDMI, optical, RCA, Cat5, digital coax for sure and possibly some others and also comes with a remote. They released a couple new box designs after the one I purchased (the new one has a hard drive cage inside, but adds some bulk). There is also a forum up and they answer to questions/bugs fairly quickly I've noticed. Also, I think they'll include new features if enough people request them (but don't quote me on that).

Re:Are Intel and AMD the only CPUs in existence? (1)

rtechie (244489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26633595)

Because developers and engineers are far more familiar with x86 and there are vastly more tools and resources for x86.

I've done embedded Linux development on platforms other than x86 (PowerPC and MIPS). It sucks.

Intel Atom (1, Interesting)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622567)

On the one hand, you can hardly blame AMD for pulling out of this market, when Intel has got it pretty much sewn up by doing such a great job with the Atom.

On the other hand, demand for chips like the Atom in netbooks is so high at the moment, AMD must be mad to be pulling out of this market.

Re:Intel Atom (2, Insightful)

Artraze (600366) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622807)

It makes me think that this is really just misdirection to make Intel complacent. While not a great strategy most of the time, with the current economic situation the stock price isn't going to take much of a hit. Then, when they announce a new low power CPU, their stock should get a nice boost and Intel will need to redouble their R&D to catch up.

Re:Intel Atom (2)

salimma (115327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623789)

That would likely backfire -- witness Sun's on-again, off-again support for Solaris-on-Intel. If AMD were to suddenly introduce a new, killer low-power CPU, it would not get as much adoption by hardware vendors as if they did not discontinue the chip.

Re:Intel Atom (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625489)

Except unlike Solaris on Intel, an AMD embedded x86 SoC doesn't have to deal with an architecture switch.

Re:Intel Atom (2, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622927)

well, the geode certainly didn't have the performance of the Atom (maybe half at best)? It did have models that targeted lower power segments - I'm pretty sure there was an 0.5W model.

Re:Intel Atom (2, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626771)

That's a big deal since the Geode doesn't need even a heatsink. That puts the Geode and Atom into separate use segments.

Re:Intel Atom (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623009)

The Geode was not meant to compete with the Atom. It competed with xscale, arm, and other embedded processors. Its a pretty competitive market. I dont think it was ever meant to be a laptop processor either. Atom on the other hand was supposed to be in laptops and is a much newer design.

AMD tried to play catch up with the Geode MX but that was based on the very old 2002 'Thoroughbred' design. Even that only lasted for a short while. Atom pretty much ate their lunch. AMD is just cutting an old product they cant make money off anymore. Its a miracle its lasted this long.

Re:Intel Atom (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625477)

On the other hand, demand for chips like the Atom in netbooks is so high at the moment, AMD must be mad to be pulling out of this market.

Think less about units sold and think more about gross margins, and you'll see why a company with limited R&D resources like AMD may not be mad to let the netbook market go. Despite their popularity, the actual amount of money to be made selling netbook processors isn't that big.

Though I wouldn't expect them to be out of it forever. As the size of the netbook market grows, it will make more sense to try to take a chunk out of it. Right now, though, getting whatever 10-20% of the market they could get would not result in enough revenue to warrant large expenditure of R&D.

Re:Intel Atom (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626293)

"Despite their popularity, the actual amount of money to be made selling netbook processors isn't that big."

Processor + host chipset + GPU, on the other hand, is a bigger chunk of cash. If AMD don't have a competitive CPU, then that market will go to Intel at the low end and Intel + Nvidia at the high end.

Re:Intel Atom (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626949)

Processor + host chipset + GPU, on the other hand, is a bigger chunk of cash. If AMD don't have a competitive CPU, then that market will go to Intel at the low end and Intel + Nvidia at the high end.

That's really only one extra chip since the GPU will be integrated on the chipset, still with razor thin margins. That's really not any better, since what's important is the margin they can get for a given piece of silicon. Selling an extra hunk of silicon with a tiny margin makes no more sense than selling just the CPU.

And there's no such thing as a 'high end' netbook. That would just be a mainstream laptop, and AMD is competing there.

Re:Intel Atom (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26632239)

"And there's no such thing as a 'high end' netbook."

Do the words 'Nvidia' and 'Ion' mean anything to you?

Also, I've read claims that margins on the Atom chips are pretty high; given how tiny they are, they can't cost much to produce.

embedded business = low margins? (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622633)

I dunno. But perhaps AMD "ran the numbers" and decided that it wasn't competitive in the embedded marketplace. As the smaller of the two CPU rivals, it needs to be careful about which battles it chooses to fight and can't dip a toe into every niche market. The Athlon Neo looks like an interesting product, but it seems a little too power hungry for the tiny netbook market and definitely not for embedded devices other than perhaps set top boxes. Time will tell.

Re:embedded business = low margins? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622903)

Good point or the fact they are not getting the number of orders to scale production to improve margins.
Running a business off margins alone is normally bad business.
As Low Margins * high volume = profit.
or High margins * Low Volume = profit.
Low Margins * Low Volume = no profit
High Margins * High Volume = High Profit, but... Leaves you open for cost cutting competition, creating a case where Volume will need to decrease, or you need to cut your margins to stay competitive.

Geode (0, Troll)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622683)

Geode was NIH and is low too poorly performing. So it was chopped, much like Intel chopped XScale from their lineups some time ago.

Re:Geode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623439)

But the XScale wasn't that poorly performing in it's segment. It's all over the damn place. Geode, on the other hand... That's something that should probably have passed on back when Cyrix (who spawned the design...) died.

Re:Geode (2, Interesting)

Locutus (9039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624185)

XScale was likely chopped because it was growing up to threaten the desktop market. XScale was based on ARM and if you haven't noticed, ARM chips are showing up in all kinds of things these days and the netbook sector is set to explode with ARM based devices this year. Dell has even put an ARM chip/system in some of their laptops to fast boot into Linux so the user can get on the web quick, get email quick, and even to run a DVD player. All with something like a 7 day battery life.

XScale was is a threat to Intel's profits and marketshare so it had to go. It had nothing to do with low performance. IMO


Re:Geode (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26628251)

XScale was is a threat to Intel's profits and marketshare so it had to go. It had nothing to do with low performance. IMO
If that was the case why did they sell it rather than just killing it.

Re:Geode (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26633163)

good question. Maybe they were required under antitrust law to sell what they got from Dec/Compaq a few years ago. Maybe, there were too many assets to just toss them in the dump instead of getting something from them for their investors. Remember, the ARM design is licensed. There could be other reasons but regardless, I do not think they don't or didn't see it as a threat once that market matured.


Why oh why... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26622785)

is no one interested in VIA's most recent offering here in this market. From what I've read it's a much better solution than the Intel Atom.. Does anyone make a system with the VIA processors though? I haven't seen any.

Re:Why oh why... (1)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623111)

Yes - Jetway does. [newegg.com] I have one and use it as a firewall running IPcop. It's great.
I got a pretty lightweight one, but they have faster ones that would be perfect for average desktop use.

Re:Why oh why... (0, Flamebait)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623197)

Indeed, if you forget about complex AJAX websites and Flash, a VIA CPU would allow you to make a netbook with a really incredible battery life.

Re:Why oh why... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26628553)

How is that flamebait? A low-end VIA CPU would be too slow for AJAX, let alone Flash.

Flash sucks on anything other than IE on Windows, even with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo CPU.

Re:Why oh why... (0, Flamebait)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623205)

The older VIA chips just didn't perform all that well and they where often tied to chip sets with really poor Linux support.
Linux is important in the embedded market. Right now I can go to Newegg and buy a few Atom based solutions. The latest Via was no where to be seen last time I looked.

Re:Why oh why... (2, Informative)

EXrider (756168) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624231)

Uh, yeah they do. The HP Mininote 2133 [hp.com] is one example. I run my MythTV box on a Mini ITX EPIA MII motherboard [via.com.tw]. The video chipsets do MPEG2 and H.264 offloading, so they handle the job quite nicely with a dedicated tuner card, just don't expect to be doing any transcoding on the lowly C3's [wikipedia.org] and C7's [wikipedia.org]. The Via Nano [wikipedia.org] supposedly can compete very well against the Atom, since Intel saddled all their designs with a massive northbridge.

Re:Why oh why... (4, Interesting)

wtarreau (324106) | more than 5 years ago | (#26629101)

The Geode may be the only x86 CPU capable of running without even a heatsink on both the CPU and the chipset. As far as I know, Atom requires a heatsink and a fan on the chipset, and the VIA nano requires a heatsink on both. The Geode is really fantastic in this regard. A typical Geode-based system has no problem being less than 1cm thick and weighing only a few tens of grams. That's important in many areas today.

x86 rules high and low end; ARM holds the middle (1)

DoubleReed (565061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26632063)

List of 8051 manufacturers. [microcontroller.com]

An interesting phenomenon has occurred in instruction sets. Things have stratified into approximately four layers. Each layer is more expensive, takes more power, and has higher capabilities. At the high end are x86 CPUs which have stuck with x86 for software compatibility. Below the x86 CPUs are ARM processors. Below that are vendor specific instruction sets. And, at the very bottom, x86 again!

For really, really low powered hardware applications where you really don't care about performance, x86 is king. The kind of applications where you take a 16 MHz chip and under-clock it to 500 kHz to save power.

So let me get this clear (1)

hobbit (5915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622839)

I have two questions that I don't believe are covered by the summary:

1) Is this the end of the line for the Geode?
2) Is the Geode used in the OLPC XO laptops?

Re:So let me get this clear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623927)


1. The title of this article is "End of the road for AMD's Geode Chip"
2. "The comments end speculation about the future of Geode, an integrated chip used in netbooks like OLPC's XO laptop..."

Now I'm posting anonymously because you have a really low UID and I'm assuming this is a trap... ;)

Re:So let me get this clear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26624603)

I think the OP may have been making a joke about the summary, which already redundantly repeated those two bits of information.

Re:So let me get this clear (1)

Ignacio (1465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624373)

1) It's the end of the product line of the Geode. No new Geode models are expected. Current models will be produced as long as there is demand.
2) In the XO-1, yes. We shall have to see what the XO-2 will use.

VIA and ARM will have this segment for a while (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | more than 5 years ago | (#26622885)

Its probably smart for AMD to leave this segment for now. VIA and ARM will have control of the ultramobile market for a while. Both companies offer high performance while keeping TDP extremely low. However, I can also see Intel being a major player in this segment in the future but, certainly not as big as ARM will be, especially if you look at some of the new ARM based OMAP processors Texas Instruments are comming out with. As for VIA, they initially sold their low power processors for embedded industrial systems, and have been moving to the consumer market ever since. Although not the most feature rich platform, it is still offers alot for its price, helping make VIA be here for a long time.

OLPC? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623135)

OLPC? That scam is still going?

It's funny, there was a recent report which placed the total cost of ownership for a $200 OLPC at somewhere like $6000. Yeah... that's really helping. I'm sure all those kids in the third world have six grand laying around.

If people had just gone with the non-scam Classmate PC, the kids would have been better off. But it wasn't REALLY "for the kids"... it was "for teh Lunix". If OLPC couldn't be used to forcefeed Teh Lunix to a captive audience, most of the people on the project had no use for it.

Re:OLPC? (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625953)

that $6K TCO must have been calculated with the Windows OS installed. Sounds about right for any Windows device. ;-)

As far as the ClassmatePC goes, the only good that was is that it would also generate alot of sales of diesel generators to power the classrooms using the ClassmatePC. FYI, Intel had to ship a generator to be installed outside the room of one of their ClassmatePC pilots because the kids batteries were failing before the day was done.


Reading it wrong (5, Informative)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623857)

AMD is NOT halting production of the Geode. They are not leaving the market (RTFM!). They have decided that it serves it's niche AS IS and will be kept AS IS. That's a very different statement. They're saying that it is a mature product (a rare thing in IT).

Currently, the Geode is good enough for many applications and would be a step up for others. The embedded world tends away from the shiny object model of upgrades. If it worked last year, it works this year, and it'll work next year. Changes in the product are considered undesirable.

AMD's statement doesn't even mean there won't be a die shrink or even a faster Geode in the future, just that they won't be updating it's architecture.

It's not a bad decision either. There is a significant niche for the Geode between the Atom (too hot, too power hungry) and things like the Dragon Ball and mips (not enough power).

Geode isn't in trouble until Intel comes out with an x86 that doesn't need a heatsink (or at least doesn't need a fan).

Re:Reading it wrong (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26628533)

does the atom need a fan? According to wikipedia the atom N270 has a TDP of 2.5W and the atom+chipset has a TDP 11.8W. If we assume we can operate the chip at 70 degrees celcius and ambiant is 30 degrees celcius that gives us a requirement for a 3.6 celcius per watt heatsink. That is achivable passively afaict.

Re:Reading it wrong (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26628751)

It should be possible to cool it passively, but every system I've seen had a fan on it. I would think Intel marketing would lead with fan-less pictures if it was a reasonable idea to run it that way...

Mod parent up (1)

Shandalar (1152907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26629079)

Why did this even get greenlit as an article? They don't have a replacement architecture ready? STOP THE PRESSES!!! They don't have a replacement architecture yet, either, for the rice paddy, but it's not like this is something of concern or even interest.

Re:Reading it wrong (1)

Strake (982081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26630243)

Geode isn't in trouble until Intel comes out with an x86 that doesn't need a heatsink (or at least doesn't need a fan).

The 8086 requires no heatsink.

Re:Reading it wrong (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26631055)

So if they can merely multiply it's speed by a factor of 100 or so (without making it run hotter), they'll have a contender :-)

Well, poop. (0, Flamebait)

theJML (911853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623941)

I guess I won't be able to upgrade to a new Geode when this one dies. I'd have to say the little thing works quite well, 4 sata ports, software raid-5, tons o' storage, running a webserver and numerous other servers... Oh well, AMD looses another customer I suppose.

Geode's Are Great for Firewalls (1)

Spoke (6112) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624611)

I've used Geode systems in tiny little ALIX boxes [pcengines.ch] that measure about 6"x6"x1" and then installed pfSense [pfsense.org] on them for firewall duties.

They work great and have enough grunt to push 50-80Mbps [pfsense.org]. More than enough for your typical internet connection. With better NICs (the ones embedded on the ALIX don't do much in the way of CPU offload or interrupt mitigation) it could push more. And they do this while drawing about 4 watts. Yeah, seriously!

CPU power is a bit lacking if you need to push a bunch of VPN traffic, but if you do, a cheap Sempron based system will push a lot of VPN traffic while drawing only about 30w total if you build it right.

Relax, already... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624673)

Someone will buy the tape and IP and continue development... if not, there's always Via....

Insignificant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26625711)

A story so insignificant that there exists no wittily-named department from which the news broke? Blast.

Open Hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26626131)

Perhaps this is a good opportunity for the open hardware people to fill a void.
Not only could you fill the lost Geode business, you could potentially surplant companies like ARM.

x86 (1)

Dark_Matter88 (1150591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26626891)

I think the most interesting development of netbook microprocessors is the rejuvination of mips. That and ARM9. when a laptop is used to type and surf with low power and form factor, why use x86?

Good design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26632345)

I have a few of these chips in the PIC. The case is about the size of a brick, I replaced the hard drives with solid state drives and they work good for X terminals or to use the browser locally to check email on web sites.

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