Advanced Micro Devices plans to introduce its new 9-series chipsets that will support the forthcoming code-named Zambezi processors featuring Bulldozer micro-architecture as well as input/output memory management unit (IOMMU) in the second quarter of 2011. The new breed of chipsets will be a part of AMD Scorpius enthusiast desktop platform.
Although there will be several minor differences between AMD 8-series and AMD 9-series core-logic sets, the main two features of the new Scorpius platform will be support for new Bulldozer micro-architecture processors as well as IOMMU, a technology that will bring a number of new features to AMD's desktop platforms and will differentiate it from competing offerings from Intel Corp., according to people familiar with AMD's plans.
Like a traditional MMU, which translates microprocessor's virtual addresses to physical addresses, the IOMMU maps device-visible virtual addresses to physical addresses. The I/O memory management unit provides a secure, scalable, high-performance solution for I/O virtualization in client or server computers. While it is clear that IOMMU sports a number of advantages in server platforms and virtualized environments, its main advantage in desktop platforms will likely be improvements in heterogeneous computing.
While there is no concrete guidance at this point, but it is highly likely that all mainboards powered by AMD 9-series chipsets will feature AM3+ sockets that will support AMD's code-named Zambezi desktop processor as well as current-generation AM3 chips. The mainboards will possibly support numerous innovations beyond AM3+ and IOMMU and given the fact that the new chipsets will have new clock-speed generators and the Zambezi chips will support Turbo Core 2.0 technology, there will possibly be a number of new options for overclockers.
Even though AMD plans to start shipping its 9-series chipsets in Q2 2011, it is still unknown when the company is able to ship its desktop microprocessors known as Zambezi made using 32nm process technology.
There will be three versions of AMD 9-series North Bridges that will be slightly different from each other:
- AMD 990FX - supports two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots (configurable as four PCIe 2.0 x8), six PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, one PCIe 2.0 x4 slot, to be paired with SB950 I/O controller;
- AMD 990X - supports one PCIe 2.0 x16 slots (configurable as two PCIe 2.0 x8), six PCIe 2.0 x1 slots;
- AMD 970 - supports one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot, to be paired with SB950 and SB920 I/O controllers;
AMD 9-series south bridge chips will support the following:
- AMD SB950 - four PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, 14 USB 2.0 controllers, PCI bus, six Serial ATA-600 connectors with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 support;
- AMD SB920 - two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, 14 USB 2.0 controllers, PCI bus, six Serial ATA-600 connectors with RAID 0, 1, 10 support;
AMD did not comment on the news-story.