AMD's iForum Plans: Geode Thin Client Processors and 64-bit Servers

Probably 50% of all thin client devices (including certain models from Acute, HP, Maxspeed, and Neoware) use National Semiconductor's Geode processors. On August 6, AMD acquired the Geode technology from National Semiconductor.

Probably 50% of all thin client devices (including certain models from Acute, HP, Maxspeed, and Neoware) use National Semiconductor's Geode processors. On August 6, AMD acquired the Geode technology from National Semiconductor.

I was at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference this week, and I spoke to the AMD folks about their presence at iForum. With the Geode acquistion, (which I hadn't heard about previously), AMD is catapulted in a big way into the thin client device marketplace. The Geode processor is much more than a CPU. It's actually a "system-on-a-chip," and the single chip contains the central processor, graphics and memory controllers, and I/O controllors for drives and storage. AMD hopes that by integrating all these components into a single packge, they'll be able to cut down on the cost of building devices.

The AMD folks said that they'll also be making some announcements regarding their 64-bit platform, although they declined to provide specific information. Maybe we'll be seeing an AMD-based 64-bit version of Citrix MetaFrame?

Current AMD Opteron-based servers can run 32-bit versions of Windows. It looks like Microsoft will release a 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003 for Opteron when they release SP1, currently scheduled for the first quarter of next year.

AMD claim's that their 64-bit processors do a better job of running 32-bit applications than Intel's Itanium processors. If that's the case, then an AMD version of 64-bit Citrix MetaFrame could be really cool since MetaFrame servers are used for desktop applications which are almost all 32-bit. A 64-bit platform would remove many of the memory limits and kernel bottlenecks of Windows. (One geeky side note: AMD's Opteron processors have an integrated DDR memory controller. This means that the front-side bus runs at the same speed as the CPU while Intel's Itanium2 bus runs at 400MHz, Opteron's runs at 1.4-2.0GHz.)

Unfortunately, Intel is not going to be at iForum this year, so we can't put them head-to-head. However, after the show, I'll set up an interview with some Intel folks and we'll see how Intel responds to AMD's claims.

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