IT Life

AMD Sees Vista Driving Demand For Graphics Computing Horsepower

AMD's new executive VP Mario Rivas sees Microsoft's Vista bringing the biggest change to the computer user in the 3-D graphics-intensive environment, creating the demand for increased performance-per-watt processors such as Fusion chips combining CPU and GPU.
MANHASSET, N.Y. — Mario Rivas, the new executive vice president at Advanced Micro Devices Inc., touched on the company's strategy for developing its chips in the near future, ranging from the current Opteron platform, to which "AMD is absolutely committed," he said, to its Fusion chips—the silicon-level integration of CPU and GPU— which are scheduled for launch in late 2008 or early 2009.

Rivas, who most recently headed AMD's office of strategy management, has been tapped to become the executive vice president of AMD's computing products group.

With Microsoft Corp.'s release of its Vista operating system, computer users will see "the biggest change in a 3-D graphics-rich environment," observed Rivas, in a telephone interview with EE Times. The OS will, in turn, create a host of new 3-D applications that demand "increased performance-at-watt-per-dollar processors," he said.

With its Fusion program, AMD hopes to deliver multicore products using different kinds of processing blocks. A GPU, for example, will excel in multiple parallel computational tasks, while the CPU will take on heavy number-crunching duties. The Fusion-based processors, with the CPU and GPU integrated in a single architecture, should make the life of software programmers and application developers much easier, Rivas added.

Instead of rolling out its Fusion chips at the 65-nanometer node, AMD will wait until 45-nm process technology becomes available. Rivas said, "65 nm is not the right spot, because other products are already in development at 65 nm," referring to the plans AMD put in place prior to the company's acquisition of ATI Technologies, which it announced earlier this year.

While AMD has not talked about its new Fusion chips in great detail, Rivas said, "architecturally speaking, Fusion is far along."

AMD will unveil further technical details of its Fusion chips Thursday (Dec. 14) at the company's annual analysts' meeting in New York.

Rivas, who led Philips Semiconductors' communication business until a year ago, has steadily climbed the corporate ladder at AMD. In his new role, Rivas will be responsible for driving the development, strategy and management for AMD's broad portfolio of consumer and commercial microprocessor solutions. The scope of the business ranges from palmtops, notebooks and desktops, to servers and clusters of servers.

Rivas will report to the Office of the CEO, consisting of Hector Ruiz, chairman and chief executive officer, and Dirk Meyer, president and chief operating officer.