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AMD’s next-gen GPU “Manhattan” and “Northern Islands” use 32nm process?

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Courtesy of Japanese hardware web portal ASCII.jp, we got our hands on two slides from presentations concerning AMD’s future hardware platforms and gained an insight how 2010-2011 is taking shape. The information given on slides is somewhat controversial and factually incorrect information, but this is what AMD Japan is saying AMD is working on.

These are official slides, thus we can confirm that AMD plans to launch Northern Islands, their next-generation graphics architecture only in 2011. According to the leaked slides, desktop platform will stick with current 40nm Evergreen series throughout 2010 i.e. no desktop refresh. The only new GPU parts planned to debut are 40nm Manhattan ones [not the 32nm, as alleged by the slide above], a DirectX 11.0 discrete option for mobile platforms in 2010. The question when and if AMD plans to switch their GPU production to GlobalFoundries remains unknown, but few months ago, we had a conversation about GlobalFoundries implementing GPU production. According to that conversation, GlobalFoundries plans to do a “trial run” for 32nm bulk process by “getting its feet wet on complex 32nm bulk silicon designs by using ATI discrete parts.” Is GlobalFoundries only going to try to manufacture Northern Islands and then prepare volume manufacturing with the refresh of Northern Islands- that remains to be seen. The decider for that is only one word – yield. GlobalFoundries beats TSMC’s yields, and that’s that. GlobalFoundries does not beat TSMC’s yields – again, that’s that.

Getting back on the subject, Manhattan is a discrete GPU option for Danube and Nile notebook platforms, paired with quad-core Champlain and dual-core Geneva processors. By default, Danube and Nile notebooks support DirectX 10.1 API courtesy of RS880 Chipset [integrated Radeon 4000 series], and if you want DirectX 11.0 support – adopt one of three Manhattan GPUs in the works: Park, Madison and Broadway. It seems to us that after the TSMC’s 40nm fiasco resulting in problematic availability of both RV740 [Radeon 4770] and Evergreen parts [Radeon 5700, 5800 series], AMD is taking a page from nVidia’s book of “Manufacturing conservatism” and will wait for more than a year to switch to a new manufacturing process.

Given that nVidia’s NV70/GF100/GT300/Fermi [seriously guys, how many codenames per generation?] has its 32nm die-shrink in the works as well, we could see Intel’s famous Tick-Tock cadence becoming a permanent fixture in the world of GPUs, for both AMD and nVidia [nVidia already has the cadence in place with NV50/G80-NV55/G92b, NV60/GT200 and NV65/GT206/GT200b]: new architecture on old/tried manufacturing process, followed by a die-shrink that is supposed to bring experience into building a new architecture on the process.

Being the mobile discrete option, Manhattan will fit “inside” 5000 series while we expect to see Northern Islands taking the Radeon numbering into 6000 series.

Getting into 2011, AMD plans to debut Northern Islands, their true next-generation part. This is the part that is being designed with DirectX 11.1 specification in mind [according to sources inside AMD, Evergreen also supports 11.1 specification. Upon our insisting, we were told that is not entirely true – DX11.1 is not finalized and they cannot be sure if Evergreen will support 11.1 or will fall short]. The DirectX 11.1 is currently being worked upon, and among our sources, it is widely expected to debut in the winter of 2010, with hardware following either in 2011. According to information at hand, we are talking about a brand new architecture which follows the prolonged cadence between new architectures [R600 – RV770: May 2007-July 2008, RV770-Evergreen: July 2008 – September 2009, Evergreen-Northern Islands: September 2009-February 2011?].

Northern Islands is set to debut on both AMD desktop and notebook platforms, and this is the architecture that is going to end up inside AMD’s first and second generation of Fusion processors. Now, when it comes to Fusion, the situation is getting quite complicated. Originally, Fusion CPU+GPU would use a Bulldozer core for high-end and Bobcat core for ultra-low power CPUs. But according to roadmaps at hand, AMD placed a step between Bulldozer and Bobcat – as you can see for yourself, the “Mainstream Desktop” [Lynx platform], “Mainstream Notebook”, “Ultrathin Notebook” [Sabine platform] all will use 32nm Llano APU.

If we read correctly to this controversial roadmap, Llano itself is a combination of already existing STARS cores [K10, K10.5 i.e. Agena/Deneb] and the Northern Islands GPU, all manufactured in 32nm. Again, this goes against our previous information which claimed Fusion APUs are based on Bulldozer and Bobcat cores – members of M-SPACE family. On the other hand, AMD is targeting netbook/smartbook platform with Brazos platform, featuring Ontario APU – next-gen Bobcat CPU cores and again, a Northern Islands GPU. Both Llano and Ontario will be paired with next-gen Southbridge codenamed “Hudson”.

Naturally, there is a lot details that need clarification, but we compiled a short list that should help you out.

In a nutshell – AMD platforms
2010 Desktop – 45nm 2-4-6-Core CPU, 40nm Evergreen GPU, 40nm RS880/RD890 chipset, DX10.1-11.0
2010 Notebook – 45nm 2-4-Core STARS CPU, 40nm Manhattan GPU, 40nm RS880 chipset, DX10.1-11.0
2011 Desktop – 32nm M-SPACE CPU/APU, 32nm Northern Islands GPU, 40nm Hudson-D chipset, DX11.1
2011 Notebook – 32nm M-SPACE CPU/APU, 32nm Northern Islands APU/GPU, 40nm Hudson-M chipset, DX11.1


Update November 03, 2009 at 14:13 GMT – We went and checked the data in this roadmap with other roadmaps we have and the inconsistencies in the pictures above should warrant a headache for AMD Japan, who obviously misread a lot of information and created a Powerpoint presentation loaded with wrong information.

Original Author: Theo Valich


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