The Task Manager Déjà vu

AMD launched a new batch of promises at CeBIT in Hannover. 45nm Deneb was demonstrated running Task Manager. The last time AMD used tskmgr.exe to demonstrate working silicon things didn't quite turn out according to plan. AMD promised to ship 45nm products by the second half of 2008. Nobody seems to disagree that this meant the fourth quarter of 2008. If AMD keeps its promise then that puts them a year behind Intel, which is again a major miscalculation from the blogger next door. Never mind the fact that Intel built up inventory in Q3'07, none of that is as important as the embarrassment for those who thought AMD is closing the gap. As usual, AMD is doing the job of correcting its own disillusioned fan base.

Not to make AMD followers a bit more nervous but this is the first time AMD will be alone implementing a microprocessor architecture on a new process. At the moment all that IBM is offering on 45nm are small ASIC designs on SOI and low power RF CMOS. Not quite a show of confidence on the new process. Clearly there is a sense that AMD is being forced to move on to the unrefined 45nm process. Maybe because it needs to show it is catching up or maybe they’re in a hurry to move away from their disastrous (and also hurried) 65nm process. Either one is valid enough. Meanwhile, the less pressured IBM waits for its alternative metal gate solution before implementing on their Power architecture. IBM has a crucial reason for waiting, and I’ll leave it for the boards to discuss.

But when it comes to announcements you have to give to AMD for cleverly stirring things up a little. It’s hard to get excited about 45nm promises when the competition is shipping them in volumes since last year, but they managed to pull it off. Throwing in technical jargons and masking process weaknesses into an advantage seemed to have worked for the scrappy little company. They got the press to notice so that’s job done for the over worked AMD PR machine. They just need to work more on coordinating their statements:

AMD spokesperson 1: “A common misconception is that being first to a new process technology generation is the fundamental determinant of performance and energy efficiency leadership. AMD has proven this to be false."
AMD spokesperson 2: “AMD's 45nm process generation is engineered to enable greater performance -per-watt capabilities in AMD processors and platforms”.