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AMD Zacate processor  (Source: AnandTech)
AMD finally delivers a solid answer to Intel's Atom processor

Intel thundered into the week of the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, with its official announcement of its second-generation Core i-Series lineup, based on the company's new architecture Sandy Bridge.  Today, AMD has is countering with a new processor family aimed at Intel’s popular Atom processor and low-end Sandy Bridge processors.

The company today officially announced the availability of its first Fusion CPUs, which had been in development under the code-name Brazos.  Writes AMD Products Group senior vice president and general manager Rick Bergman states in a press release, "Fusion processors are, quite simply, the greatest advancement in processing since the introduction of the x86 architecture more than forty years ago."

The introductory models begin with the power-sipping Ontario lineup, which has now been officially branded the "C-Series".  The C-30 comes with one core, clocked at 1.2 GHz.  The C-20 comes with two cores, clocked at 1.0 GHz.  The TDP for both processors is 9 watts.

Next up is Zacate.  This code-named lineup has been rebranded the "E-Series".  The E-240 packs a single 1.5 GHz processor core, while the E-250 packs a pair of cores clocked at 1.6 GHz.

For a lengthy review of what's inside refer to our previous article on Brazos.

The key to AMD's claims is not only the brand new Bobcat core architecture that powers the chips, but in the GPU that AMD has packaged onboard.

Much like Intel, AMD has plopped a GPU right onto its chip die.  However, AMD's GPU sounds a bit more advanced, with full DirectX 11 support  (which Intel won't get until next year at the soonest).

AMD explains, "Internet browsing is a faster, application-like experience; 1080p HD video playback is gorgeous, smooth and quiet; standard definition video looks high-definition; 2D content can be converted into stereoscopic 3D; even the most graphics-intensive websites load quickly; manipulating HD content is fast and easy; and 3D gaming at HD resolutions is fast and life-like."

AMD also promises 10+ hour battery life from netbooks sporting its new chips.

A couple of models have already been announced -- the Lenovo X120e and HP Pavilion dm1 -- and more are reportedly on the way.  AMD promises Brazos netbooks from "Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, MSI, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba to announce plans to deliver AMD Fusion APU-based systems at very compelling value and mainstream price point."

If AMD can deliver this sounds like its shaping up to be a game changing launch for the company.  Netbooks and budget notebooks are one of the hottest fields in mobile computing and Intel has long remained virtually unchallenged in this sector (only a few players like VIA moved small volumes of products based on Atom competitors).  Now AMD looks prepared to change that.

And it has more in store.  This week at the 2011 CES it is expected to launch its "A-Series" lineup, formerly know as Llano.  These notebook Fusion processors are expected to feature a beefier GPU.  AMD's press release for the E-Series and C-Series teased, promising that the A-Series would deliver 500 Gflops of computing power in a chip.  Again this indicates that while the GPU onboard won't be a superpower, it will likely outdo Sandy Bridge, whose low-end models will compete with the A-Series.  We won't have the final verdict, though, until official specs and pricing information airs.

AMD has faced a long and rocky road leading up to 2011.  But the timely release of Fusion is a vindication of the company's vital acquisition of graphics maker ATI.  That acquisition essentially turned around the company's image, giving it the top volume competitor in a major computer hardware market.  Now it looks to further leverage that acquisition by combining the products of its two key units -- the CPU and GPU teams.  One thing is for sure -- 2011 should be an exciting year for the netbook and notebook sector as AMD looks to turn up the heat on market leader Intel.

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Great product but get over yourself!
By Taft12 on 1/4/2011 10:31:38 AM , Rating: 5
Writes AMD Products Group senior vice president and general manager Rick Bergman states in a press release, "Fusion processors are, quite simply, the greatest advancement in processing since the introduction of the x86 architecture more than forty years ago."

I'm an admitted AMD fan, but hyperbole this grandiose is rare even in the tech industry hype-machine.

Dial it down a notch for the love of God there Rick!

RE: Great product but get over yourself!
By MrBlastman on 1/4/2011 10:37:26 AM , Rating: 4
I especially love this line:

standard definition video looks high-definition

Pixels are pixels and resolution is resolution. Even if they do bilinear filtering with resolution doubling, it still will not be high definition--it will just look like manipulated video.

By piteq on 1/4/2011 12:50:05 PM , Rating: 2
It really depends how standard is his definition of standard of high definition or how high are his standards of...

OKay. I'll come in again.

[The Inquisition exits]

RE: Great product but get over yourself!
By amanojaku on 1/4/2011 10:50:22 AM , Rating: 3
Obviously, you haven't paid attention to the effect of marketing on Apple's sales and market cap. I was expecting a "magical", "revolutionary" or "game changing" statement, but I think Apple would sue for prior art using the English language. I'd be willing to overlook the backslapping on AMD's part if Fusion delivers all AMD says it does. Except this:
standard definition video looks high-definition
Because we all know that's bullsh1t. You can increase the resolution all you want, but you can't add detail that isn't there.

RE: Great product but get over yourself!
By MonkeyPaw on 1/4/2011 12:37:20 PM , Rating: 4
Isn't that sort of what upscaling does? I mean, if you play a DVD in an HD-capable output device, SD does actually look pretty good. I thought that my 360 made DVDs look pretty good to me anyway.

As for how revolutionary these are? Atom doesn't stand a chance, IMO. Intel left it too handicapped, And now there is a better general purpose CPU. Sandy Bridge is another story, and the ball is now in bulldozers court.

RE: Great product but get over yourself!
By HrilL on 1/4/2011 2:57:35 PM , Rating: 2
The CPU side is kind of lacking honestly. Its not as bad as atom but its no power house either. But I believe AMD's next gen will be a lot better.

Props to AMD none the less I'd love to see them knock Intel off their performance crown once again. AMD needs to create a completely new architecture and possibly move all the Chipset components onto the same chip.

RE: Great product but get over yourself!
By MonkeyPaw on 1/4/2011 5:26:57 PM , Rating: 3
As long as battery life is competitive (I'd even accept slightly worse battery life), I don't even have to see benches to know that I'd pick AMD in the netbook. The GPU is that much better, and the CPU is at least OoO, which should give it better IPC anyway. Atom can't stream HD content well at all until Intel fixes the terrible GPU.

As for the new architecture, they pretty much are doing that now. Each Bulldozer core unit will have 2 ALU cores for each FPU core. Should do nicely, IMO.

By Da W on 1/5/2011 11:17:46 AM , Rating: 3
A bulldozer core should perform better than an hypertreaded core because of this. However AMD will market each Bulldozer "module" as 2 cores, meaning that AMD's quad core (dual module) should perform between a dual core with hypertreading and a quadcore with hypertreading.

Reading the technical preview form anantech, Bulldozer looks like to be on par with nahalem but below sandy bridge. Since AMD will put in a beefier GPU than Sandy bridge, in order to keep TDP within limit, i doubt they will move to a quad bulldozer module (they would market as 8 core) that would be able to keep up with an intel core i7. Their so called quad-core will in effect be a dual module. So for the same TDP, i expect outstanding graphic performance (for an IGP that is) but still disapointing CPU performance.

RE: Great product but get over yourself!
By bleekii on 1/4/2011 11:29:12 AM , Rating: 2
What's also funny is that the x86 architecture wasn't even meant to be a great or progressive architecture when it came out. It was introduced to fill the market until the iAPX 432 architecture, which failed.

By Nik00117 on 1/4/2011 9:08:38 PM , Rating: 2
Great things never start out as something amazing or magical. They start out simple.

By bupkus on 1/4/2011 3:11:02 PM , Rating: 2
Conceptually a fusion of cpu and gpu capabilities on one chip is pretty big. We're beginning to see how big with what intel has provided with a remarkable Sandy Bridge. Will AMD fulfill that promise? I hope so. I love great choices when I'm shopping. What AMD promises will be a fine solution for many shoppers.
However, this is all just a stepping stone to hyper-mobility.

By Silver2k7 on 1/6/2011 3:50:58 AM , Rating: 2
Does Windows Vista / Seven require a GPU to be installed ?
If so you can probably install windows on most new and upcoming CPU's without a video card in the box..

So the integrated video card, witch a few motherboards have, moved to the CPU.

Maybe this move was required for the new AVX instructions to work ? Atleast they seem to provide a good boost once they are up and running. But as they need Win7 SP1 to run at all.. and only very few programs yet to support the new instruction set.. it will probably take 6 months before it becomes a hit, thought im sure it will be in due time.

Are all AMD fans, fanatics?
By inaphasia on 1/4/2011 12:26:25 PM , Rating: 2
Netbooks and budget notebooks are one of the hottest fields in mobile computing and Intel has long remained virtually unchallenged in this sector...

If Intel cared about this sector they wouldn't give Atom's a 2year artificial handicap. That's how long Intel think it should wait before giving a whole series of chips designed for saving energy, a die shrink! Maybe it really is because they have gone "virtually unchallenged". But it looks like they can't be bothered and are just handing the whole sector over, on a silicon platter.

RE: Are all AMD fans, fanatics?
By StevoLincolnite on 1/4/2011 12:43:54 PM , Rating: 2
Intel hasn't given Atom a die shrink because, Intel doesn't manufacture the chips, TSMC does, and that's as low as it will go as TSMC ditched 32nm.

RE: Are all AMD fans, fanatics?
By inaphasia on 1/4/2011 1:19:32 PM , Rating: 2
That fact would be relevant if Intel took the Atom's straight to 22nm next year. But they probably just crunched their numbers and decided to abandon this market segment.

RE: Are all AMD fans, fanatics?
By DanNeely on 1/4/2011 3:37:19 PM , Rating: 5
The only thing TSMC makes is the south bridges for the Zxxx atoms (the ones without publicly available Linux driver source code). TSMC has a license to produce 3rd party atom SOCs; but as yet no one has taken them up on the offer. Atom is currently made on Intel's 45nm process (if it was TSMC it would be 40nm); I suspect that atom wasn't given priority for the limited 32nm capacity because there wasn't any competition in the segment, and because the 32nm low power process wasn't finished at the same time as the full power one, and it was simpler to just make everything on the low power one (Moorestown will be the first on it).

RE: Are all AMD fans, fanatics?
By inaphasia on 1/4/2011 7:43:28 PM , Rating: 4
You DO know Anand is looking for writers?:)

I think I should wait *just* a little longer...
By stmok on 1/4/2011 12:06:34 PM , Rating: 3
...If you've seen AMD's long term roadmap; you'll come to realise that 2011 is their "tock" (introduce new) and 2012 is their "tick" (refine/improve) releases.

Here's what I mean...


Zacate/Ontario (Now called E-series and C-series)
* 40nm bulk process from TSMC
* Up to dual-core Bobcat cores
* Radeon HD 54xx-based IGP (Although marketed as HD 63xx series)
* Hudson southbridge

Llano (Now called A-series)
* Modified K10.5-based cores (Similar to Athlon II config.)
* Radeon HD 55xx/56xx-based IGP (Market as HD 65xx?)

* 1st generation Bulldozer-based


* 28nm bulk process from Globalfoundries
* Up to quad-core Enhanced-Bobcat cores
* Radeon HD 6xxx-based IGP ?
* Yuba southbridge

* 2nd generation Bulldozer-based cores
* Radeon HD 6xxx-based IGP ?

* 2nd generation Bulldozer-based

Its especially noteworthy in regards to the Bobcat-based APUs. Going from 40nm to 28nm process is quite a notable change. Especially if they're claiming 10 hours with the former process!

...And yes. PR/management people tend to be way too "over enthusiastic" for their own good.

By DanNeely on 1/4/2011 3:39:27 PM , Rating: 2
quadcore in the ultra low power segment is kinda pointless since the CPUs are still slow enough to be painful with most single threaded apps. Until that changes it's adding the wrong sort of performance.

By encia on 1/6/2011 7:16:52 AM , Rating: 2

AMD Ontario Bobcat vs_Intel Pineview Atom vs Intel Core 2

By Cheesew1z69 on 1/4/2011 10:27:02 AM , Rating: 4

Some pretty ridiculous claims are being made.
By 91TTZ on 1/4/11, Rating: 0
By Aloonatic on 1/4/2011 11:23:28 AM , Rating: 2
Re: browsing. In the market segment that they are aiming at, then they might have more of a point than you think. I have a CULV notebook that really doesn't like it when you start visiting some websites that have a lot of flash and what-have-you going on. Basically, myspace is a no-go now, since they overhauled their site. Not that I'm all that bothered, as I only really went on it every now and again to check up on my cousin's band, but still... Also, try playing some flash games on facebook, and if you can then try to do anything else as well.

As for video, I'm not really sure what they are on about either, but I do know that up-scaled video does look better on my AMD laptop when compared to my Intel 4500 MHD powered laptop, but I doubt that the diference is quite as they are claiming in tehir marketing material.

Oh wait, it's marketing material. I'm always just happy when they stop short of claiming that something will change my life or whatever. Marketeers seem to have entered a BS arms race, which we are all suffering from.

By jharper12 on 1/15/2011 8:46:46 AM , Rating: 2
I guess you aren't familiar with the hardware acceleration trend taking place with internet browsers? IE already takes advantage of your GPU, Chrome 8 has it via labs, and everyone eventually wants to include it in their browser. So, depending on what you're actually doing online, yes, these APUs could offer a significantly improved experience. Agreed that it is all a little over the top though. They could have just stuck with, "functionally it will feel a million times better than Atom, and can even play some older games really well."

By DanNeely on 1/4/2011 10:50:37 AM , Rating: 2
Writes AMD Products Group senior vice president and general manager Rick Bergman states in a press release, "Fusion processors are, quite simply, the greatest advancement in processing since the introduction of the x86 architecture more than forty years ago."

x86 launched in 78, so either this was released sometime after 2018, or no one in AMDs PR approval chain can do simple arithmetic.

Timely release?
By BernardP on 1/4/2011 4:23:23 PM , Rating: 1
"the timely release of Fusion is a vindication of the company's vital acquisition of graphics maker ATI"

Timely after years of delays you mean...

Although I am an AMD supporter, I have to admit that timely doesn't rhyme with AMD.

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