AMD is expanding its portfolio of G-Series chips for the embedded market, adding products at the high and low end that will enable device makers to target the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as bring richer media capabilities to more traditional markets such as thin client terminals.
The new G-Series chips were announced at the Embedded World 2016 conference in Nuremberg and effectively split AMD's embedded portfolio into two pin-compatible stacks intended to enable hardware vendors to upgrade if they need more performance, without having to redesign the circuit board.
AMD explained that many trends are affecting the embedded industry, one of which is connecting smart devices to the IoT. But devices are becoming more interactive, and more advanced user interfaces call for demanding graphics or speech input.
The expansion of the G-Series aims to address the entire spectrum with SoC devices that cover a range of performance levels while presenting as consistent a platform as possible from a developer standpoint.
All the new chips also have a planned 10-year support lifecycle, a key requirement for hardware vendors looking to embed them into product lines.
At the lower end of the scale, the G-Series LX family (left of slide above) comes in below the existing first- and second-generation G-Series chips with which it is socket compatible. Higher up the scale, the third generation of G-Series (right of slide above) is split into an I family and a J family, both of which fit below the R-Series that AMD launched last year to target more demanding embedded applications, and which are socket compatible with that.
The G-Series LX family delivers a more cost-optimised solution at the low end of the stack, although two Jaguar CPU cores and a single Radeon GPU compute unit give the G-Series LX a significant amount of processing power.
"This platform is delivering 64-bit x86 performance into price points and applications that are typically more associated with 32-bit ARM offerings," said Colin Cureton, director of product management for AMD enterprise solutions.
The G-Series LX targets point-of-sale terminals, networking and communications equipment, and industrial control applications, but also so-called zero clients, endpoint devices designed to provide end user access for virtual desktops.
"We have been very successful in the thin client market with our G-Series offerings, and in the case of this new product it allows us to go right down to the very low end into zero clients," Cureton said.
The G-Series LX chips are specified for a thermal design power (TDP) of 6W to 15W, and have a single 64-bit DDR3 memory channel. As a SoC, they also have integrated I/O, comprising four single lane PCI Express ports, two USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports, two Sata ports for connecting storage devices and dual display outputs.
Meanwhile, the third generation of the mainstream G-Series boasts more processing performance by using a pair of CPU cores based on AMD's most recent Excavator core design introduced last year. This means that the new products are based on the same architecture and are socket compatible with the more powerful R-Series chips, but with fewer cores.
The G-Series is split into the J family, which has two Radeon GPU cores and a TDP of 6W to 10W, and the I family which has four Radeon GPU cores and a TDP of 12W to 15W. The only other major difference is that the J family has a single memory channel for 64-bit DDR4 or DDR3 memory, while the I family has two channels.
This makes the I family more optimised for higher performance, while the J family is better tuned for lower power consumption, delivering a scale of increasing performance leading up to the R-Series, according to AMD.
"This brings unprecedented choice in terms of selecting an AMD embedded processor and ease of scalability and migration between the devices, allowing customers to right-size the processor they choose while reducing the number of platforms they have to build in order to scale their systems into different applications," Cureton said.
The G-Series I and J families have a similar I/O complement to the LX family, but use a four-lane PCI Express port in addition to the four single lanes, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, two Sata ports for connecting storage devices and dual display outputs capable of 4K video.
The range of applications that AMD foresees for these mainstream third-generation G-Series chips includes thin client terminals, but also industrial control, automation and machine vision, and medical imaging thanks to the increased CPU and graphics performance.
AMD said that the first versions of the third-generation G-Series chips are available from today, while the G-Series LX family is due to be available from March. Customers are ready to go with hardware designs, so the first devices should come to market over the coming weeks and months, according to the firm.
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