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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 MrTeal on 4/22/2011 1:24:01 PM , Rating: 3
Jason, the i5-520M isn't a SNB chip. The SNB chip would be labeled something like i5-2510M. The i5-520M is a 2.4GHz Arrandale chip.


RE: HD3000 vs Fusion
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/22/2011 1:48:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Jason, the i5-520M isn't a SNB chip. The SNB chip would be labeled something like i5-2510M. The i5-520M is a 2.4GHz Arrandale chip.


Whoops, thanks for the catch... you're right.

However, I believe my point still stands and here's why.

The Sandy Bridge chip's GPU (HD 2000) has half the EU's of the Ironlake IGP in the Arrandale chip, though they're clocked higher.

So I doubt it will perform better from a GPU standpoint, though it will likely be disguised by superior CPU core performance when going from Arrandale.

At the end of the day, I believe my statement that the on-die Evergreen GPU in Fusion is faster than its closest competitor the HD 2000 found in Sandy Bridge, is 100 percent accurate.


RE: HD3000 vs Fusion
By wharblgarbl on 4/22/2011 2:39:29 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
At the end of the day, I believe my statement that the on-die Evergreen GPU in Fusion is faster than its closest competitor the HD 2000 found in Sandy Bridge, is 100 percent accurate.


So the closest competitor is Intel's lowest performance Sandy Bridge mobile chip? Then it's the HD 3000. Intel doesn't ship the HD 2000 in a mobile chip, not even the lowly i3.

You really just need to admit that you were wrong. You claimed that AMD's Brazos graphics were significantly faster than Sandy Bridge graphics, and your supporting evidence was that it was about equal to Arrandale. You didn't change your mind when it was pointed out that you were using the wrong data. Even with the right data, showing that Sandy Bridge is 88% faster than Brazos, you didn't change your mind.

You said that the discrepancy was due to Sandy Bridge's superior CPU performance, but Aikouka debunked this by comparing both against the Radeon 5450. This didn't change your mind, or even get a response.

Now you change your statement that the Brazos GPU is faster than Sandy Bridge's slower iGPU, seemingly conceding that it's much slower than the HD 3000. But the closest competitor to Brazos is the HD 3000, since the HD 2000 isn't available in Sandy Bridge laptops.

You were wrong. It's okay to admit it.


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