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Fusion processors are cheap, power efficient, and pack a powerful GPU -- a winning combination for budget designs.  (Source: Computer Shopper)

The chip has helped AMD finally turn the corner and return to profitability.  (Source: Maximum PC)

  (Source: Comic Vine)
Once troubled chipmaker appears to be turning the corner thanks to GPUs and CPU/GPU "Fusion" combos

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.'s (AMD2006 purchase of ATI Technologies for $5.4B USD was widely criticized and scrutinized at the time.  But it now appears that it may have saved the company.

After a couple years of losses, AMD finally appears to be turning the corner this year.  The company reported [press release] an impressive net income of $510M USD on revenue of $1.61B USD.  Its operating income was $54M USD and its non-GAAP income was $54M USD.

The strong earnings were largely driven by AMD's continued dominance in GPU sales.  They also were driven by AMD's new Fusion system on a chip that packs power-savvy Bobcat CPU cores on a die with a full Evergreen (found in the 6000 series) GPU.

OEMs appear to be embracing the chip.  Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, MSI, Sony and Toshiba have all launched Fusion designs.  And the chips are also becoming popular in the embedded sector for devices like casino machines, which need a more power GPU to drive a large screen.  Fujitsu, Kontron, Quixant and Congatec are all pushing embedded applications of Fusion chips.

Thomas Seifert, CFO and interim CEO, elates, "First quarter operating results were highlighted by strong demand for our first generation of AMD Fusion Accelerated Processing Units (APUs).  APU unit shipments greatly exceeded our expectations, and we are excited to build on that momentum now that we are shipping our 'Llano' APU."

The Fusion chips are proving so popular for several regions.  First, AMD has priced them very competitively, so they're winding up in very affordable laptop designs.  Secondly, the chips are very power efficient.  And finally they offer a nice performance blend, offering sufficient CPU performance and relatively powerful GPU performance.

By contrast Intel Corp.'s (INTC) latest design Sandy Bridge, also packs an on-die CPU/GPU pairing.  But the onboard GPU is significantly weaker, the power consumption is higher, and the chip is more expensive.  Thus while it is solution of choice for high-power enthusiast desktops and laptops, it's less than optimal for the much larger budget laptop/desktop market.  

Sandy Bridge was also hurt by early defects in its SATA connections, which have since been fixed.

A common criticism leveled against Fusion is that having a discrete GPU in a budget design is superfluous.  However, for Blu-ray playback or playing popular older video games like World of Warcraft, customers definitely come to appreciate the benefits of the design.

It appears that AMD is, at the moment, out-competing Intel much in the same way it outcompeted graphics chipmaker NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) -- by attacking the low end.  Of course, AMD's growing Fusion sales likely would not have been possible were it not for new scrutiny from U.S. and European antitrust regulators that forced Intel to stop paying off OEMs to ignore AMD designs.

It's worth noting that Intel still leads AMD significantly in market share.  AMD is also experiencing leadership troubles of late, with a number of executives departing.

But at the end of the day, though, even in the face of these issues and bigger questions loom about the future of x86 processors as a whole, AMD looks much better positioned to be competitive with Intel.  And all of that comes back to the increasing returns from its strong GPU division.



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RE: HD3000 vs Fusion
By Da W on 4/22/2011 12:06:03 PM , Rating: 3
E-350 is a 18watt piece, an atom-class CPU/GPU, and if it beats HD 3000 or not is irrelevant, Sandy Bridge is a 75-95watt piece! Wait for the equivalent AMD APU Llano. Then you can go into a dick contest if you wish.


RE: HD3000 vs Fusion
By Khato on 4/22/2011 1:55:39 PM , Rating: 2
Except for the fact that... dual core sandy bridge systems without discrete graphics nearly match E-350 power consumption.

The HP dm1z is currently the best of the E-350 platforms as far as power consumption is concerned, many of the other models have 1.5x to 2x the idle power consumption. But according to notebookcheck, http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-HP-Pavilion-dm... it still draws 5.5W idle, and then a maximum of 21W. An amusing fact is that a C-50 based design they also reviewed barely did any better, http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Toshiba-NB550D... 5.4W minimum idle and 19.8W max. Meanwhile an underpowered atom beats 'em out at 4.3W idle and 14.4W max - http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Acer-Aspire-On...

Of course the important point for this discussion are dual core sandy bridge systems. The best example that they test is the T420 at 6.8W idle and 28.6W max - http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Lenovo-Thinkpa... aka, barely higher power consumption than the E-350 based laptop for -far- higher performance. The only reason to buy an E-350 is price, and there's no question that you get what you pay for with regard to performance.


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