Thursday June 16, 2011 1:00 pm
AMD’s Llano APU processors set to ship this quarter
Advanced Micro Devices has unveiled unloaded a bevy of product roadmap details for its upcoming Fusion processors—though; much of the information had already been leaked last month.
AMD's Fusion chips are the culmination of the chip maker's blending of x86 central processor technology with the GPU instruction set it acquired when it bought ATI Technologies in 2006. By putting both key computing functions on a single processor die, the company thinks it has a more compelling processor package for makers of mobile computers and light-footprint desktops than rivals Intel and Nvidia.
AMD calls these chips "accelerated processing units" or APUs. The company's A-Series APUs, formerly codenamed Llano, are currently shipping to computer makers and are expected to appear in more than 150 desktops and notebooks set to hit retail shelves throughout the second quarter of this year, AMD said.
The company isn't shy about talking up the advantages of its A-series processors, which combine up to four x86 CPU cores with up to 400 Radeon GPU cores with DirectX11 support, and dedicated HD video processing on a single chip of silicon.
"The AMD A-Series APU represents an inflection point for AMD and is perhaps the industry's biggest architectural change since the invention of the microprocessor," said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's Products Group.
"It heralds the arrival of brilliant all-new computing experiences, and enables unprecedented graphics and video performance in notebooks and PCs. Beginning today we are bringing discrete-class graphics to the mainstream."
John Taylor, director of client product and software marketing at AMD, elaborated on the edge AMD thinks it has over Intel with the new Fusion chips in an interview with PCMag.
"One-sixth of their die is devoted to graphics, but about 40 percent of our die is dedicated to graphics," he said. "So basically, they have more x86 but with sub-par graphics."
Specifically, AMD compares Intel's latest Sandy Bridge chips as compared with its own Llano parts. The Sandy Bridge CPUs devote slightly more than half of the die to x86 cores and cache, with about a third going to "uncore" or Northbridge transistors (L3 cache, bus controllers, etc.), and maybe a fifth of die space dedicated to graphics processing.
AMD's A-Series Llano dies, by way of contrast, are roughly equal parts x86 CPU and cache, GPU, and Northbridge.
AMD says it is now squeezing a lot more compute performance onto its 226-sq.-mm A-Series APUs with power draws of between 35 and 45 watts. Three separate chips on previous-generation AMD platforms are combined in those next-generation APUs: A 66-sq.-mm, 13-watt Northbridge, a 200-sq.-mm., 45-watt, quad-core CPU, and finally, a discrete-class DirectX 11-compatible GPU measuring in at 108 sq. mm and drawing 26.3 watts.
The upshot—A;MD; says notebooks built on the new Llano platforms add a whopping 3.5 hours of battery life to the 6.5 hours the 2010 platforms delivered. AMD is calling that extra battery life "AllDay Power."
Earlier leaks of AMD's product roadmap showed that the company is also starting to dip its toes in the tablet market. The chip maker's upcoming Fusion Z-Series APUs, codenamed Desna, are targeted at makers of consumer tablets who have to date almost exclusively used processors based on the ARM architecture in their designs.
AMD thinks Desna is well-suited for both consumer media tablets and devices built for business use. The chip maker is playing up its graphics prowess with promises of "smooth streaming HD video," AdobeFlash 10.2 acceleration, Microsoft Office 10 visual enhancements, and support for DirectX 11 and Windows 7 Effects.
Desna also runs accelerated HTML 5 and Internet Explorer 9, while "leveraging the Microsoft Windows application base."
This article, written by Damon Poeter, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.
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