AMD Aims Fusion Chip At Laptops In Bid To Outgun Intel

The advanced Fusion processors will merge X86 and graphics cores and will ship in 2009.



Santa Clara, Calif. -- Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is zeroing in on notebook computers as the initial target for its Fusion processors, which will merge X86 and graphics cores and will ship in 2009. AMD believes the integration will power notebooks with "significant, though not dramatic" improvements in performance per watt, outgunning offerings from archrival Intel Corp.

AMD announced the Fusion program when it completed the acquisition of graphics chip designer ATI Technologies Inc. in October. At that time, it said the Fusion chips would target a broad range of products, from palmtops to supercomputers. Now the company is getting more specific about its plans.

"Our plan is to focus on mobile to deliver significant increases in performance per watt. We will start in mobile and hopefully integrate upward" into desktops, Steve Polzin, chief platform architect at AMD, said in a keynote address at the DesignCon Conference here last week.

With this strategy, AMD aims to recreate its success with its Opteron CPUs, which integrate a memory controller and standard cache-coherent interconnect, easing the job of building multiprocessing servers as well as multicore processors. The integration has helped AMD grab a slice of the server market from Intel.

Like servers, notebooks are a fast-growing and relatively high-margin PC segment. The integration of graphics is driven by the need to support high-def video and high-quality graphics while keeping power consumption low, Polzin said.

Key to AMD's success will be an effort to drive the industry to a consensus on a small set of standard application programming interfaces to enable the hybrid Fusion chips. "Software is a big part of making accelerated processors work well," Polzin said in an interview after his speech. "One API would be nirvana, and I hope we can get there, but I don't think practically we are going to. In the near term there will be a few APIs, for different market spaces."

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