AMD preps slimline Athlons for slimline PCs

Slim form-factor chips limit power draw to 35W

AMD is set to release a series of Athlon and Duron processors aimed at power-limited applications called Slim Form Factor (SFF) parts.

The chips, based on both the new Palomino and older Thunderbird cores, will draw a maximum of 35W, with the core voltage modified to ensure consistent power draw characteristics at any clock speed.

So says Japanese Web site PC Watch, at any rate. It cites Taiwanese mobo manufacturer sources - as far as we can tell from Babelfish's slightly wonky translation.

SFF versions of the 1.1GHz Athlon (T'bird) plus 800MHz and 900MHz Durons will apparently ship this quarter (what's left of it - we'll be in Q3 in a couple of weeks' time), followed next quarter by a 1.1GHz Palomino Athlon and a 1GHz Duron (Morgan). Q4 will see 1.2GHz and 1.3GHz SFF Athlons and a 1GHz Duron (Morgan).

The 1.1GHz T'bird has a core voltage of 1.4V, while the 1.2GHz Palomino runs at 1.5V, both set to maintain the 35W power consumption figure.

Now, we're not entirely sure what these parts are for. PC Watch notes that by offering a consistent power consumption and - we presume - the same heat output characteristics across multiple clock speeds, PC makers can swap in faster CPUs without having to worry about devising new thermal dissipation mechanisms.

We're not sure that they'd have to do much with a 1GHz to 1.3GHz leap (the range set down by AMD's SFF roadmap), but then we're not CPU heat output experts. Perhaps someone who is would care to put us right.

Actually, another possibility here is the production of fan-less PCs, along the lines of Apple's Power Mac G4 Cube, as a number of Register readers have pointed out.

Central to AMD's SFF plan seems to be a desire to target the market for small form-factor PCs. Having seen their predictions for the Internet appliances market prove spectacularly wrong, the world's IT analysts now seem to have settled on the small form-factor PC as the "next big thing", a view backed by buyers' current disdain for top-end, highly expandable PC systems. Many industry observers believe that when the recovery comes, buyers will favour powerful but cheap systems.

The SFF also seem to be aimed at the Japanese market, which is increasingly choosing compact machines over bulky ones. By far the majority of the world's sub-notebooks ship in Japan, for example, having been shunned by Western buyers who generally don't like trading functionality for portability. ®

Related Link

PC Watch: Athlon SFF story (in Japanese)

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