AMD will today release its long-awaited Fusion chips that combine processor and GPU modules onto a single chip, which the company claims will offer outstanding performance with long battery life, even in ultraportable laptop designs.
The first Fusion chips, dubbed Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) by AMD, are the 18W Zacate E-series for mainstream laptops and the 9W Ontario C-series for netbooks and ultra-small form factors.
Both are based on AMD's new Bobcat core design, combined with AMD Radeon GPUs supporting Microsoft's DirectX 11 graphics APIs. Bobcat is the first core the company has designed from the ground up since 2003, AMD said.
Four chips will be unveiled today at CES: the E-350 is a 1.6GHz dual-CPU design, while the E-240 has a single CPU at 1.5GHz. Both these Zacate models have dual-core Radeon HD 6310 graphics clocked at 500MHz.
The remaining two chips are the dual-CPU C-50 at 1GHz, and the single-CPU C-30 at 1.2GHz, both of which have dual-core Radeon HD 6250 graphics clocked at 280MHz.
Like Intel, AMD is expected to have a range of upcoming systems on display at CES, demonstrating which vendors have Fusion systems ready to roll.
AMD said its Fusion chips have been designed to handle the way people use computers today, using and creating high-definition video and accessing rich applications via the internet.
"We've taken a massive jump towards high-definition entertainment," said AMD's director of client marketing, Bob Grim.
"We're getting 3D internet applications, Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray, and moving towards a set of applications that demand parallel processing because they have to crunch through an enormous amount of data to do what they do. They need a new type of processor to do that."
However, the firm is also keen to emphasise the power efficiency of the new chips, and claimed that systems based on Zacate and Ontario will have a battery life of up to 10 hours.
But it is the embedded GPU capability that AMD sees as its real advantage, and Grim stated that Ontario systems will have a 3D graphics performance 10 times that of netbooks based on Intel's Atom chips.
"We have such a tremendous advantage in the graphics capability of these parts. Not only do they run at 9W, but they have a discrete DirectX 11 graphics engine inside," he said.
AMD said that it has been working with developers to provide software support for its APUs. Part of this involves compatibility with OpenCL, a framework for building applications that can run across CPUs and GPUs, the firm said.
"Now application developers don't have to choose whether to write for the CPU or GPU, they can code their applications for OpenCL and get the best out of the x86 cores and the best out of the graphics cores," said Grim.
Later this year, AMD is expected to introduce further Fusion chips aimed at desktops and servers based on its Bulldozer processor core design.
Further out, the company plans to introduce more APUs codenamed Krishna and Wichita, based on a sub-one watt Bobcat design.
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