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The Origins & Evolution of AMD's Turion 64 Mobile Technology

The Origins of AMD's Turion 64 Mobile Technology

By now you must be more than well aware of AMD's immense success of their K8 architecture - a design that propelled AMD right in the center of processor technology spotlights and it has managed to remain that way ever since with highly competitive if not, industry leading processors that kept its rival on its toes. This architecture first debuted in the high-end workstation and server space in the form of the Opteron lineup and has since garnered major industry support and acknowledgement thanks to its excellent performance scaling, high performance per unit power consumption, easy implementation (such as x86-64 ISA) and other benefits brought about within its platform. Not to mention are the well-entrenched Sempron, Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2 and Athlon 64 FX processor series that followed suit soon after and catered to every possible price and performance envelop in the desktop user segment.

Where once AMD was playing second fiddle to Intel, they have managed to turn the boat around full swing and are now paving their own path to meet market needs and demands. While AMD has been battling hard and setting the pace in both the server and desktop segments for the past three years, they had unfortunately neglected the mobile segment where their offerings were far outmatched by Intel's Centrino Technology. While we all acknowledge that AMD is certainly not the giant that Intel is, they could have made plans earlier for a proper counterattack on the mobile front. Intel's Centrino Technology's early inception of tackling many verticals such as performance, power and mobility really made a deep impact among both consumers and AMD's already small mobile segment. While Mobile Athlon 64 processors did crop up to retain the performance crown on the mobile front, it was most suitable only as a Desktop Replacement (DTR) notebook for it had a much higher thermal envelope and guzzled power as well. Needless to say, they were mostly bulky. Lacking the refinements seen on the Intel Centrino Technology, naturally, AMD was not a convincing alternative on the mobile front in the early days.

The Evolution of Turion 64 Mobile Technology

To douse that once and for all, AMD outlined and debuted the Turion 64 Mobile Technology in the first quarter of 2005. Similar to Intel's Centrino Mobile Technology, the Turion 64 Mobile technology was a platform consisting of AMD's new mainstream mobile CPU, the Turion 64, along with an ecosystem of industry partners supplying mobile system chipsets and wireless LAN connectivity. While the Intel approach restricts a notebook's components to Intel's own variety to be validated as a Centiro-class notebook, AMD's approach classifies a notebook as being Turion 64 Mobile Technology compliant as long as the many recognized industry players by AMD supply the necessary chipsets (and of course utilizing the Turion 64 processor).

So while AMD's model provides a far greater notebook variety and consumer choice, it is also much more difficult to fine-tune each notebook since the component possibilities are vast. This is the reason why we encountered many Turion 64 Mobile Technology based notebooks that were unrefined in both performance and power consumption in the early days. It wasn't till towards the end of 2005 when we came across much more formidable Turion 64 notebooks that were able to hold their own in performance to price and mobility quotients commendably. In fact, AMD's mobile market share had increased with the help of the Turion 64 Mobile Technology unlike the stagnant state it was a year earlier.

The Turion 64 process itself was basically made of the same ingredients as their desktop-class Athlon 64 processors except that they were toned down and were manufactured with the then-new 90nm SOI process technology. Consequently, AMD managed to obtain smaller, more affordable CPUs that consumed less power and had reduced heat dissipation - giving rise to smaller profile notebooks bearing decently powerful mobile CPUs of the K8 architecture that happened to both power efficient and affordable. However, Intel upped the ante once again in early 2006 with the first dual-core CPUs to hit the notebook scene - Core Duo. Any limelight and momentum buildup on AMD's mobile parts were quickly snatched as Intel's marketing machine hammered away their new Intel Centrino Duo Mobile Technology platform. However this time round, AMD was in a much better position than it had been earlier and it wasn't long before they retaliated with the Turion 64 X2 Mobile Technology, ala dual-core Turion. However, there's more to it than just the core doubling; so read on for the details.