Computex: AMD demos low power Fusion APU, announces Fusion Fund

Subject: Processors | June 1, 2010 - 10:43 PM |

At Computex 2010 in Taipei this morning AMD held the first public demonstration of a Fusion-based APU (accelerated processing unit): the combination of a traditional CPU and GPU architecture on a single monolithic die.  The pairing of high performance serial processing units and parallel graphics processing cores provides the potential for a dramatic shift in the computing and system marketplace. 

Rick Bergman, SVP of the AMD Products Group was on hand to give the first public demo of the Fusion APU that brings "power-efficient processors that combine CPU, GPU, video processing and other accelerator capabilities in a single-die design to efficiently power the most popular and demanding consumer experiences, from HD video applications to media-rich Internet experiences to DirectX 11 games."  Bergman suggested with the continued migration of users into multimedia consumption and media creation roles the need for the Fusion-based APU has increased dramatically.

AMD hopes that the "PC experience will evolve dramatically" when the first Fusion APUs are formally announced in the first half of 2011.

A generic APU design

Specifics were light, but I do know that the APU being shown was not the desktop variant built on 32nm technology but rather was the 40nm Ontario core built at TSMC and aimed at the Atom markets.  AMD obviously feels they have a strong advantage in this market with the APU as they are putting focus on it rather than the Llano-based notebook and desktop parts that were originally billed to be the first Fusion parts available.  If you were reading this hoping to get a hint of the clock speeds, die sizes or shader counts for Ontario you and I are both disappointed - AMD continues to hold that very close to the chest.

Bobcat cores will be used in the Ontario APU

AMD's APU demonstration comes one day after Intel's Dadi Perlmutter went on stage at Computex and briefly showed the upcoming Sandy Bridge CPU+GPU chip at work.  Though details were light, the Sandy Bridge GPU performance was compared to a "current generation mainstream discrete graphics card" and the side by side comparisons of Mass Effect 2 were honestly impressive.  Though no more specs were given (frame rate, the discrete GPU being used as comparison) the fact is that after seeing the gaming demonstration I think AMD will have a run for its money in 2011 to have the fastest integrated processor for graphics. 

Details were light, but in real time the graphics on this demo looked great on both systems

The demonstration of the APU hardware wasn't the only point brought home by AMD at the press conference.  The company also announced the formation of the AMD Fusion Fund that would be making investments in companies that display an innovative solution to take advantage of AMD Fusion APUs and their unique hardware capabilities.  By simply submitting an application to AMD a software development house that can showcase the ability to drive demand for the combined CPU+GPU product could get funding to continue their work. 

Obviously AMD's intent is to increase the demand for both GPU-accelerated applications as well as heterogeneous programs that could take advantage of both CPU and GPU components of the APU.  Even though we are essentially combining a current generation processors with the integrated graphics of an IGP motherboard chipset (in very basic terms) there are new complications and new benefits this merger provides and AMD is demonstrating the desire to find them. 

Fusion has been a long time coming and the product as we know it now is very different from our first glances of it back in 2006.  A shift unlike any other in the consumer market is about to take place and the world of the discrete graphics card will never be the same.  But we are also hopeful that the world of computing will never be the same as well as the APU (and Intel's versions of a similar idea) will drive innovation in a market that desperately needs it.  It might be uncertain for consumers right now but for AMD the future is most definitely Fusion.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — June 2, 2010 — At Computex 2010, AMD (NYSE: AMD) today delivered the first public demonstration of an AMD Fusion processor, initiating the accelerated processing era.  The AMD FusionTM Family of Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) represents a significant shift in processor architecture and capabilities, combining high-performance serial computing and parallel graphics processing cores onto a single die to improve visual and data-intensive tasks that are pervasive in today’s computing environments.  A video of today’s demonstration can be found here.

Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, AMD Products Group, provided an APU technology demonstration during a press conference today. This demonstration provided a sneak peek into the upcoming seismic shift in the computing industry: power-efficient processors that combine CPU, GPU, video processing and other accelerator capabilities in a single-die design to efficiently power the most popular and demanding consumer experiences, from HD video applications to media-rich Internet experiences to DirectX 11 games. The AMD Fusion Family of APUs represent a distinctly powerful processing approach to the evolving digital consumer landscape, where more than 28 billion videos are watched each month online and a thousand pictures are uploaded to social networking sites every second.

“Hundreds of millions of us now create, interact with, and share intensely visual digital content,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, AMD Product Group. “This explosion in multimedia requires new applications and new ways to manage and manipulate data. Low resolution video needs to be up-scaled for larger screens, HD video must be shrunk for smart phones, and home movies need to be stabilized and cleaned up for more enjoyable viewing.  When AMD formally launches the AMD Fusion family of APUs, scheduled for the first half of in 2011, we expect the PC experience to evolve dramatically.”

Software Development

Consumers are hungry for applications that run faster and make digital media easier to enjoy, and a new wave of software innovation is taking place as AMD software partners take advantage of AMD APUs and GPUs to enable better experiences across an ever-widening set of content. Microsoft joined AMD on stage at Computex and discussed how AMD Fusion APUs can enable improvements to applications such as Microsoft Windows 7 and DirectX 11, and how CPU and GPU collaborative computing can enable superior PC experiences.


“While visual computing has made incredible strides in recent years, we believe that the AMD Fusion family of APUs combined with Windows 7 and DirectX 11 will fundamentally change how applications are developed and used,” said Steven Guggenheimer, corporate vice president, original equipment manufacturer division, Microsoft. “Applications such as Internet browsing, watching HD video, PowerPoint and more can enable more immersive, visually rich, and intuitive experiences for consumers worldwide.”


In addition to Microsoft DirectX with DirectCompute, software developers can also build enhanced applications using OpenCL via the ATI Stream SDK, which further underscores AMD’s commitment to industry standards. 

AMD Fusion Fund

    At Computex 2010, AMD also unveiled the “AMD Fusion Fund,” a vehicle to make strategic investments in companies developing innovative solutions that will take advantage of the forthcoming AMD Fusion family of APUs. Additional details were disclosed on the AMD Fusion Fund in a separate announcement.

Extending Consumer and Graphics Leadership at Computex

    With the launch of the AMD Fusion Family of APUs planned for the first half of  2011, AMD is positioned to extend the leadership it already has in the consumer PC market with VISION Technology from AMD and in the graphics market with the award winning ATI RadeonTM family of GPUs. At Computex, both product lines were on display for attendees, including many of the brand new VISION-powered SKUs recently launched by OEMs. In May, AMD announced a significant platform refresh for its VISION Technology, with as many as 135 new ultrathin and mainstream notebooks arriving on the market.

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