AMD Lays Out Roadmap For Fusion Processors - InformationWeek

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AMD Lays Out Roadmap For Fusion Processors

Struggling AMD believes Fusion will be a game-changer, connecting CPU and graphics card onto a single die for reduced footprint and increased performance.

Advanced Micro Devices gave an overview of the product roadmap for Fusion, the company's next-generation microarchitecture that combines graphics and CPU cores on a single die to deliver higher performance.

AMD executives discussed Fusion, which won't be available until 2011, at its annual Analyst Day at AMD's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters, on Wednesday. Executives also discussed AMD's product plans for next year.

AMD, a distant second in the global chip market behind Intel, believes Fusion will be a game-changer in the industry. The architecture connects a CPU core from AMD and a graphics chip from ATI, which AMD acquired in 2006, on a single piece of silicon. The combination delivers a product that has a smaller footprint than the separate chips offered today and also delivers higher performance, according to AMD.

The CPU piece of Fusion-based products set for 2011 will be one of two new x86 cores, code-named Bulldozer and Bobcat. The former will be used in Fusion processors, which AMD calls accelerated processing units, for mainstream server, desktops and laptops. Bobcat, on the other hand, will be used in APUs targeted at thin-and-light laptops, which require lower power processors. AMD has not given much detail on the graphics core that will be used in APUs.

The first APU for mainstream laptops and desktops is codenamed Llano, the first in what will grow into a family of products, executives said. For low-cost, low-power ultra-portable devices, AMD plans to offer a new platform codenamed Brazos, which will feature an APU code-named Ontario. Ontario will contain the Bobcat CPU.

For the highest performing desktops, AMD plans to offer in 2011 an eight-core Bulldozer-based product codenamed Zambezi. All the products described will be based on a 32-nanometer manufacturing process.

In 2010, AMD's roadmap includes the company's first quad-core processor for laptops. Codenamed Danube, the chip will offer seven or more hours of battery life.

AMD also plans to release its third-generation platform for thin-and-light laptops. Codenamed Nile, the chip will offer similar battery life as Danube.

For the mainstream server market, AMD plans to offer two new platforms codenamed San Marino and Maranello. The former will be comprised of eight- and 12-core processors, while Maranello will use CPUs with fewer cores in order to fit the low-power needs of cloud-computing environments. The new products will fall under AMD's Opteron brand.

Finally, next year's platform for top-of-the-line desktops, codenamed Leo, will include a six-core CPU.

AMD, which spun off its money-losing chip manufacturing operation this year into a joint venture with Advanced Technology Investment Co. called GlobalFoundries, is banking on the spinoff and its upcoming products and technology to end its struggle toward profitability. AMD's net loss in the third quarter, though smaller than expected, was the latest in a dozen straight quarterly losses.

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