AMD to stop working on Geodes (Carlos Nazareno)

Edward Cherlin echerlin at
Wed Jan 28 01:32:30 EST 2009

On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 8:39 PM, Sameer Verma <sverma at> wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 5:14 PM, Mitch Bradley <wmb at> wrote:
>> On Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 12:04 PM, Carlos Nazareno <object404 at> wrote:
>>> > AMD sees no Geode chip replacement in sight
>>> > AMD on Monday said it has no replacement for the aging Geode low-power
>>> > chips that are used in netbooks and set-top boxes.
>>> >
>> The cost of developing and supporting a processor family is staggering.
>> AMD bought the Geode business from another company.

National Semiconductor, which bought the line from Cyrix. I edited
several of the pin- and register-level manuals for various chips for
them more than ten years ago, and updates of my work are still online
on the AMD Web site. OLPC has educated AMD on how to use the
power-management registers to do things that nobody previously knew
were possible.

>> Often, when a company buys a business unit, that unit withers on the vine.  The "new kids on the block" have a difficult time establishing a strong place within the established "pecking order", so in the competition for resources, the new group often comes up short.  When there is an economic downturn, the new group is often the first to go.
>> AMD barely has the resources to maintain a competitive stance in the part of the market that has traditionally been their core, especially now that the economy is bad.
>> I'm sure that AMD would be very happy if they had enough money to go after the low power market, but they just don't.

I am delighted that this premature obituary also turns out to be
greatly exaggerated.

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> Somebody on Slashdot (yeah!) has a good write-up pointing to the fact
> that AMD isn't halting production. Its just not going to develop Geode
> further.
> From the comment:
> <begin quote>
> AMD is NOT halting production of the Geode. They are not leaving the
> market (RTFM!). They have decided that it serves it's niche AS IS and
> will be kept AS IS. That's a very different statement. They're saying
> that it is a mature product (a rare thing in IT).
> Currently, the Geode is good enough for many applications and would be
> a step up for others. The embedded world tends away from the shiny
> object model of upgrades. If it worked last year, it works this year,
> and it'll work next year. Changes in the product are considered
> undesirable.
> AMD's statement doesn't even mean there won't be a die shrink or even
> a faster Geode in the future, just that they won't be updating it's
> architecture.
> It's not a bad decision either. There is a significant niche for the
> Geode between the Atom (too hot, too power hungry) and things like the
> Dragon Ball and mips (not enough power).
> Geode isn't in trouble until Intel comes out with an x86 that doesn't
> need a heatsink (or at least doesn't need a fan).
> <end quote>

Marvell has bought XScale from Intel. That may be the principal
alternative. The Encore Mobilis being bought by Brazil for its schools
uses an XScale processor and MontaVista Linux, so Sugar Labs should be
working on an XScale port of Sugar soon.

> I've seen the Geode in action in Soekris boards
> ( when I was doing fun Wi-Fi stuff, and used
> to wonder what it would be like if we had a Geode machine running a
> laptop...well that wish came true with the XO :-)
> I'll also point out (peripherally) to a comment made by Jeff Bezos in
> a BusinessWeek article
> (,
> where he says that frugality leads to innovation (necessity being the
> mother of invention, etc.) and I think the frugality of XO's design
> has definitely lead to many innovations. I for one would *not* have
> thought that I would be using a 433MHz x86 laptop with 256MB RAM as my
> favorite machine :-)

Alan Kay loves to ask how Doug Engelbart and his team managed to
shoehorn all of the Online System (NLS) in The Mother of All Demos
into 192K in 1968.This included realtime videoconferencing and
instantaneous, seamless crash recovery. People come up with all sorts
of technical theories, but Alan's answer is, "Because they wanted to
badly enough."

> Hats off to the Geode!
> cheers,
> Sameer
> --
> Dr. Sameer Verma, Ph.D.
> Associate Professor of Information Systems
> San Francisco State University
> San Francisco CA 94132 USA
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> Devel at

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And Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, The Truth my destination. (Ed Cherlin)

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