Embedded with AMD
Last week we celebrated a key milestone at AMD - the first shipment of our Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), a.k.a. AMD Fusion, to customers.
In recognition, I'd like to give a shout out - courtesy of HEXUS - to somebody you probably don't know, but who was instrumental in getting our low power APU (codenamed "Ontario") designed and built: Buddy Broeker.
Buddy runs our Embedded Solutions group, one of AMD's best kept secrets (though not for long), and as it just so happens, this little APU is poised to do as much for Buddy's business as the traditional PC market.
Think for a moment of all the cool things around our digital life: huge signs blinking and flashing neon around Piccadilly Circus; immersive digital displays in upscale retail stores; kiosks at airports where we get our boarding passes, medical imaging devices, and - oh yeah - casino gambling.
And with AMD's low power APU, our digital life only gets better: more vivid signage, immersive interactive displays, internet-ready set top boxes integrated into TVs, gambling machines that print money. (Okay that last one is not true...but oh if it were.)
That's the power of putting discrete-level GPU capability on the same die with a CPU. Now, software developers can tap into the teraflops of parallel processing power that traditionally only game developers have utilized. And all of this great graphics is available in smaller power envelopes and less board space. Making it an ideal choice for the Embedded market, as well as for traditional devices like notebooks, netbooks, All-In-Ones, and small form factor desktops.
Why does putting discrete-level GPU on die make such a difference? In addition to the power savings and reduced size, there are three major reasons:
1. Access. Historically, software developers have had to make a choice whether to develop for the CPU or GPU. Other than (primarily) game developers, they've chosen the CPU because - unlike discrete GPUs - there's a CPU in every PC. And integrated graphics has always lagged behind the discrete GPU IP.
So, they've chosen the CPU for both economic and technical reasons. As a result, the experience has suffered in key usage areas that are perfect for parallel processing: video, imaging, and anti-virus just to name a few. By putting discrete-level GPU (meaning current generation IP, DirectX®11, scalable SIMD engines) together with the APIs that can tap into it (OpenCL, DirectCompute) - a whole new world has opened up to application developers.
2. Performance. Bandwidth (PCI Express bus) has limited the discrete GPU's performance. While in the current integrated environment data transfers at about 7 gigabytes per second (which is pretty fast by the way) it's over 3 times faster when you put it on the silicon. Chuck Moore, an AMD Corporate Fellow, described key features of AMD's Fusion architecture at our Financial Analyst event this week. Here is his presentation if you want to get more details on the AMD Fusion architecture, and understand why over 10 years of high performance GPU hardware and software experience is necessary to fully realize this new era of computing.
3. Scalability. The low power APU we're shipping is the "little sister" if you will to our full-powered AMD APU codenamed "Llano", with more SIMD engines, increased frequency and compute capability for mainstream and performance PCs and other devices. Llano is scheduled to begin shipping to customers the first half of next year - and expected to find its way to PCs and other cool embedded stuff the second half of 2011. Lots more to come on this as we get closer to shipping Llano.
So, congratulations to our engineers for designing a great product, our product team for making it real, and all the folks at AMD who are bringing it to market.
And to Buddy, for championing this powerful little APU these last few years. Maybe, finally, I can get that uber-embedded device I've been begging him for: a tiny PC/TV hybrid that streams the New England Patriots beating the Miami Dolphins every Sunday (sorry Scott) (cheap shot - Ed), projects 3D movies without glasses, and automatically purchases the latest Burberry shoes in my size. Oh, and prints money.
Leslie Sobon is corporate vice president, product marketing at AMD. Her postings are her own opinions and may not represent AMD's positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.