AMD's Piledriver-based chips to feature energy-recycling tech

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AMD is working hard on a successor to the Bulldozer core that arrived in the last quarter of 2011 with its FX desktop CPU lineup. Dubbed "Piledriver", little details are available about the new processor cores so far, except that they'll debut with AMD's upcoming 'Trinity' APUs. Now a company called Cyclos Semiconductor is spilling the beans about a new power-recycling feature that will make its first appearance on Piledriver chips.

Speaking at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco recently, Cyclos claimed that the x86 processing core design destined for Piledriver processors will include its resonant clock mesh technology, a patented technique that can reduce the total power consumption of the processor core by up to 10 percent without sacrificing performance.

As EE Times explains, the technology uses on-chip inductors coupled with capacitors that store energy in electric fields to create something known as 'tank circuits'. These tank circuits swing energy back and forth between the electric and the magnetic fields, allowing for energy to be harvested and re-used. This means the technology recycles clock power instead of dissipating as heat every clock cycle as traditional designs do.

Cyclos was founded in 2006 as a spin out of the University of Michigan and in its early years it experimented with technology from ARM Holdings. However, AMD's Piledriver processors will mark the first large-volume commercial deployment of a resonant clock technology. Based on its tests the company says Piledriver cores could come with a factory clock speeds of 4GHz or more and energy savings will be in the 10-24% range.

The Piledriver core will be used in multi-core computer chips destined for desktops, laptops and servers. The second-generation A-Series 'Trinity' APU should arrive sometime in Q2 for mainstream desktop and laptops, while the second-generation FX processors (codenamed 'Vishera') won't arrive until Q3. It's not clear at this point of all Piledriver-based chips will feature Cyclos' technology or just a subset of them.

For its part, Cyclos has announced plans to target SoC manufacturers like Texas Instruments, Nvidia, Qualcomm and Intel with the same technology in order to improve the power efficiency of their chips.

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