WE HAVE LONG said that AMD needed an IDF-like event to spread the technical word and act as a mixer for ideas. Little did we know they had one, but it was hidden from the public gaze, until this year.
The event is called the AMD Technical Forum and Exposition (TFE), and is held every autumn in Taipei. The first three years were 'top (ish) secret', NDAs required, and in general discussed things that were not meant to be public, yet. This year, the requirements were relaxed quite a bit, so The INQUIRER went along for the show.
TFE is the brainchild of AMD Fellow and Chief Thermal Architect, Dr Gamal Refai-Ahmed. It started out several years ago as a small conference of barely 100 people, and has since grown to almost 400 with 42 partners involved. This and other efforts lead to Dr Refai-Ahmed receiving the 2008 Thermal Management Award from the ASME.
Gamal with a typical slide
Since TFE is by engineers for engineers, there was little publicity, and almost everything was to the point. This is a backhanded way of saying it was a good thing to go to. Initially, the conference centered on future thermal problems facing the chip industry, and has since moved on to other topics like power, EMI and acoustics. It is continually broadening, and is now a good way to kick off discussions on where things are going in PCs. If you look at the agenda, you can see what AMD/ATI is nervous about in the 2-3 years out time frame.
There are two key differences between TFE and IDF. First is that TFE is more forward looking, it is trying to solve problems that are years out, not near term. IDF tends to showcase current products and how to use them more than long term questions. TFE is also a method to bring people together to solve problems, not handing them close to final solutions. You could sum it up by saying that IDF is about using Intel products, TFE is more laying the groundwork for the future technologies.
The end result was a lot of hallway chats, several new and coming-soon technologies on display and, in general, the seeds of collaboration were planted. We will be bringing you a closer look at several of these technologies in the coming days, so stay tuned.
If you get the chance next year, it is an event worth going to if you are in the field. µ
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