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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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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.

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