AMD is joining forces with Motorola in an agreement that will pave the way to supercharged copper-based processors for the Year 2000.
In return for access to AMD's Flash memory technology, Motorola will offer licensed access to its copper interconnect technology. AMD hopes to use this to take its future K7 processor to speeds exceeding 1GHz.
AMD insists that there has been no souring of its relationship with IBM Micro-Electronics, which was the pioneer of copper interconnect technology, and there will be no change to the presently unfulfilled deal to use the excess capacity at IBM's PowerPC fabrication plants to manufacture K6.
"There is a fit with Motorola that there wasn't there with IBM. Motorola assists AMD with copper, and AMD assists Motorola with Flash memory technology," said Rana Mainee, European market analyst and planning manager at AMD.
In its first incarnation, due early next year, the K7 will come initially in standard aluminium. At best, customers could receive the supercharged copper version by the end of next year. Details of the processor specifications will not be released until the Micro-processor Forum in the US in October but the K7, based on Digital's Alpha bus technology, is expected to contain further internal elements of Alpha technology.
There are no plans to migrate the current K6 processor family to copper interconnect, even the proposed K6-3 - 256MHz on-die cache - due at the at the end of this quarter.
Arch rival Intel has still made no commitment to copper but has not ruled it out altogether. "There's plenty of life in aluminium yet," said an Intel spokesman. "There are still a lot of technical problems with copper and the way it reacts chemically with silicon," he added.
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