New chips on the block

A host of new microprocessors and chip platforms are set to debut this year, including AMD's first 45-nanometer processors, as the battle for market supremacy wages on.

The microprocessor war rages on between Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) this year, with the latter expected to release its first products based on the 45-nanometer low-power chip microarchitecture mid-2008.

Aside from the battle of the 45-nm chip, the two rivals are set to clash in the traditional notebook processor space. AMD will be unleashing its Puma platform, consisting of the processor code-named Griffin and the RS780 mobile chipset. Intel, on the other hand, is planning a refresh of its Santa Rosa platform, to include the new Penryn processor.

Nehalem, the successor to Penryn, is also due out in the second half of 2008, said Intel's Asia-Pacific communications manager Nick Jacobs. The second-generation 45nm processor features improved performance and power efficiency as well as new server features, and has the ability to scale from two to over 16 threads and one to more than eight cores.

"Nehalem-based products will be the first family of Intel processors to use the QuickPath system architecture, which will significantly improve overall system performance," said Jacobs. "The QuickPath system architecture will include integrated memory controller technology and improved communication links between system components."

AMD has also set its sights on multi-thread applications and multi-core technology in the year ahead.

"2008 will be the year where more multi-threaded applications will be introduced into mainstream market and multi-core technology will start to be fully utilized," said Bryan Low, AMD's vice president for sales and marketing in South Asia, in an e-mail. Besides Puma, AMD will be introducing the Spider platform, which incorporates the Phenom processor.

Intel is also banking on its Menlow platform comprising the Silverthorne processor and Poulsbo chipset to lead the charge in the Mobile Internet Device and ultramobile PC (UMPC) markets. Menlow, as reported previously, is on schedule to ship in the first half of 2008. Already, Apple is said to have plans to use Silverthorne in its products.

With the slew of new products, both Intel and AMD will be working hard at winning market share, and achieving profit margins.

According to figures released in January by research organization IDC, Intel commanded about 76.7 percent of the global microprocessor market in the fourth quarter of 2007. AMD held a market share of 23.1 percent during the same period. The average market shares of both companies for the entire 2007 calendar year were similar to Q4 figures.