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AMD's 18 W dual-core Zacate packs two Bobcat Cores and a dedicate on-chip GPU die capable of handling gaming and 1080p video.  (Source: Slashgear)

NVIDIA recently announced a dual-core version of its ARM Tegra APU. NVIDIA was the first to release an APU, but the ARM core aboard Tegra is incompatible with Windows 7.  (Source: Reuters)
Look out AMD, you aren't the only incoming SoC solution anymore


AMD looks to soon capitalize on its success as the new sales king of the GPU market, by launching in early 2011 its "Fusion" products, which puts a GPU and CPU together on a single die.

At the IFA 2010 trade show in Germany this week, AMD showed off an 18W TDP Fusion system-on-a-chip (SOC) solution.  The chip combines dual 
Bobcat cores with AMD graphics, in what AMD calls an Accelerated Processing Unit (APU).  

The product is codenamed "Zacate" and looks like it could make a splash on the notebook scene thanks to its ability to decode 1080p video and play modern video games (all on a lean power budget).  Such a processor would be particularly desirable to ultra-portable designs.

Unfortunately for AMD it isn't the only one cooking up an APU.  
Bloomberg is reporting that Intel Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini will show off his own company's take on a GPU+CPU SOC at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco next week.

The announcement creates in an interestingly competitive scenario -- AMD arguably has more GPU experience and the better graphics hardware technology.  But Intel has had superior CPU processing per dollar for some time now.  

John Taylor, a spokesman for the Sunnyvale, California-based AMD is quick to note his company's graphics edge, stating, "There are decades of research and design that goes into our discrete graphics.  Intel has yet to deliver a product that has discrete-level performance. Right now, it’s just claims."

Of course those are bold words coming from a company that has experienced plenty of delays of its own in the past.

Intel is reportedly confident that it can outcompete AMD in terms of price.  But its integrated graphics processors thus far have been far from stellar performers, to say the least.  So who will pull off the APU upset?  The CPU champion, or the GPU grandmaster?  The financial stakes are high and the market is wide open; customers can eagerly await a hard fought battle and the release of some exciting new options in 2011.


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By foolsgambit11 on 9/10/2010 4:39:23 PM , Rating: 3
I'd say for most complete system builds, in the mid- and low-end system range, AMD and Intel are generally neck and neck on p/p ratio for total system costs. For the processors alone, Intel has an advantage, though. Furthermore, I've heard that Intel has higher margins on their products in this range - i.e., their pricing is based off of AMD's more than vice-versa, so if push came to shove, Intel could improve their p/p ratio in these brackets. As it is, they rely more on brand recognition (now, let's not talk about their sordid allegedly anticompetitive past) to get higher system sales than AMD in the same price/performance bracket.

When it comes to new SOC designs, though, the price to performance questions are different than desktop parts. As the article mentions, the balance of CPU to GPU power will play a role in the p/p balance for these chips. Also, I'm guessing motherboard costs will be pretty similar between platforms (unlike current desktop parts). Intel may be able to deliver better CPU performance at the same price (and in the same power envelope). But if Intel systems need discrete GPUs to perform certain tasks (HD playback, modern gaming, etc.), that will shift the balance as well. Only time will tell how things fall out.

By inighthawki on 9/10/2010 5:03:55 PM , Rating: 3
AMD has some pretty good deals in mid-end cpus, such as <$100 quad core chips that are actually really good. I will say though that the p/p ratio is not always about price of cpu vs performance of cpu, but rather the price of the system vs its performance. Once you buy the cpu, a decent motherboard, and RAM, you can easily achieve a much better p/p ratio on an AMD system. This however varies slightly from deal to deal. Like I mentioned above, when I bought my system, I got an i7 930 for much cheaper than the 1090T, allowing me to save in the total build, it ended up a better deal.

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