AMD Releases First Fusion APUs

A day after Intel unveiled a similar design, Advanced Micro Devices introduced its "Brazos" chips that combine graphics and CPU on the same die to improve performance and lower energy consumption.
Advanced Micro Devices has launched the first of its new class of Fusion processors; one day after rival Intel unveiled a similar chip design that combines graphics and CPU on the same die to improve performance and lower energy consumption.

AMD, which calls its new products accelerated processing units, unveiled the E-Series APUs, codenamed Zacate, and the C-Series, codenamed Ontario, in Las Vegas, Nev., on Tuesday, two days before the official opening of the Consumer Electronics Show. Intel officially released the first of its combo graphics-CPU processors, codenamed Sandy Bridge, on Monday in Las Vegas.

AMD and Intel have entered a new technology era in their long-running rivalry. The new designs make possible smaller and more powerful mainstream consumer laptops for high-definition video playback and light video editing. A separate graphics card is still needed for handling intensive graphic applications, such as high-end video games or professional video editing.

Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo are the first computer makers to announce product running AMD's new APUs. The HP dm1 and Lenovo's ThinkPad X120e have 11.6-inch displays and weigh 3.5 pounds and 2.9 pounds, respectively. The dm1 gets 9.5 hours of battery life, while the X120e gets more than six hours. Both laptops use APUs from AMD's E-Series. The dm1 is scheduled for release Jan. 9 at a starting price of $450, while the X120e is expected to be available in April for less than $400.

Full-size, lightweight laptops, such as the HP and Lenovo models, are considered the sweet spot for AMD's E-Series, which includes the dual-core E-350 and single-core E-240 unveiled Tuesday. The chipmaker's first C-Series chips, the dual-core C-50 and single-core C-30, use half the power of their E-Series cousins and are aimed at mini-laptops called netbooks and tablet computers.

Other computer makers planning to release products based on AMD's APUs include Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, MSI, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba, the chipmaker says.

AMD's first APUs are based on a low-power platform codenamed Brazos. The platform includes a new x86 CPU design codenamed Bobcat. Later in the year, AMD plans to unveil in the first half of this year an A-Series of APUs, codenamed Llano. The products, which will have four x86 cores, are scheduled to appear in larger mainstream laptops and desktops in the middle of the year, AMD says.


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