AMD has a mystery product called 'Magnum'

The product is a FPGA prototype for an unknown DTV product.

It's amazing the sources some journalists use to find leads. Oftentimes it's a LinkedIn profile where an engineer reveals an undisclosed product. But in this case, it's a shipping company.

The eagle-eyed folks at WCCFTech spotted something strange in the shipping manifests for Zauba, an Indian shipping firm. The entry is an AMD product codenamed "Magnum," with references to FPGA and DTV, two acronyms that don't usually go together.

The entry in question reads "PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARD ASSEMBLY-AMD MAGNUM FPGA PROTOTYPEBOARD FOR DTV P/N .102-B25432-00 (FOC)."

Another clue from the manifest is that it originated in Canada. ATI Technologies, the GPU maker AMD acquired in 2006, was a Canadian firm and a great deal of GPU research and development is still done at the Markham, Ontario office. So this product was led by the GPU team, not the CPU team.

That AMD wants to experiment with FPGA is not new, I wrote about this a few months ago. What's odd is that this is related to digital TV. AMD had a DTV business but sold it to Broadcom in 2008. So are they getting back into DTV, an already crowded field? And why would they need an FPGA, when its SoC would do pretty much everything needed?

The part has a pretty high value for just a component. Its value is listed at 22,123 Indian Rupees, which translates to $342 in current exchange rates. No TV maker is going to pay that kind of money for an add-in board, at least for a low-to-midrange set. They don't pay that much for the LED panel.

There is always the possibility it's for a console or a device like Nvidia Shield, but again I wonder what the FPGA is for. FPGAs are great for doing a repetitive task over and over very fast. If this was for a server product I wouldn't even blink. That's where FPGA shines, like in Microsoft's Bing search engine.

I've asked AMD for comment but no word yet.

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