Just a couple of days ago a reader very close to Austin, Texas laboratory told me that the code-named K9 CPU has been in development for just about six month. The project K9 hit the drawing board, but no silicon has been touched at all, he added. Despite of these facts, a Japanese web-site PC Watch issued some preliminary information about the next-generation CPUs from AMD.
Historically it took three to five years to develop architecture, design actual microprocessor and ramp up the production of a CPU. As a result of more efficient execution and solid experience, both Intel and AMD were able to shorten this period to about two to three years. Unfortunately, despite of the fact that AMD’s K8 was almost ready to go in 2001, the actual chips come out only this year due to problems with their fabrication process; so, there is a four years gap between the K7 and K8.
Sources claim that actual details of the K9 architecture will be announced in a year, sometime in Fall 2004, whereas, in case everything goes well, the AMD K9 microprocessors will emerge in 2005 or 2006. Nevertheless, we may discuss some compulsory and very probable facts about the K9 processors even now.
First of all, let us touch upon the CPU FSB. The Hyper-Transport is about to prove its efficiency and cost-effectiveness as an interconnection mechanism between the microprocessor and other components of the system. We may presume that the K9 processors will inherit Hyper-Transport technology from the K8. There will be a major gap between K9’s and K8’s FSBs, hence, AMD’s next-generation CPUs are very likely to utilize improved version of the Hyper-Transport bus.
Secondly, since the 64-bit software will not have the largest market share neither by 2005 nor 2006, AMD K9 will also utilize the x86-64 (currently renamed to AMD64) architecture.
Finally, all hardware developers and makers will support, or will have to support, Microsoft’s Next-Generation Secure Computing Base code-named Palladium. The upcoming Intel Prescott microprocessor will support the La Grande technology, whereas AMD’s K9 will boast with something similar.
Considering the currently discussed timeframe I believe that the AMD K9 processors will be fabricated using 65nm manufacturing process. Their core-speeds will surely be higher compared to what AMD has now, but there is no point to guess about that as we still know practically nothing about the architecture of AMD’s next-generations K9 CPUs.