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Cheap small notebooks and netbooks, like the HP dm1Z have powered Fusion to massive sales, taking rival Intel Corp. by shock.  (Source: Netbook Live)

AMD's Fusion is a mid-market powerhouse that Intel has no direct answer to in terms of price and performance. Atom is too weak; Sandy Bridge is too expensive.  (Source: Funimation/Toei)
Company sold 5 million chips since the Fusion platform's launch at the start of 2011

As if Intel Corp. (INTC) needed any more bad news after all the grief ARM Holdings plc (ARMH) is giving it, it appears that Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) may be closing the gap in notebook and netbook sales.

Late last month, Microsoft's Bill Koefoed, general manager of investor relations, reported "a 40 percent decline in Netbooks" in Q1 2011.  In Q1 2010, netbooks sold about 10 million units, so this indicates that about 6 million netbooks sold in January, February, and April.  If that pace were sustained, through May around 10 million netbooks would have sold.

AMD's Raymond Dumbeck announced this week that AMD sold 5 million "Fusion" chips in the first five months of the year.  AMD's Fusion chips went into a mix of 10-, 11-, and 12-inch notebooks.  Given that the line between a "netbook" and "ultra-portable PC"/"small PC" lies somewhere in 11-12 inch range it seems like a fair guess that A.MD sold about 3 million "netbooks" -- or about a third of the total market (~10 million units)

That's incredible news for AMD which traditionally had little sales success in the mobile sector and virtually no sales in the netbook sector.

The flip side of the AMD victory is that Intel's ultra-mobile Atom processor appears to have bled a great deal of market share in a very short time.  Atom has suffered as AMD reportedly undercut it with Fusion and delivered a superior on-chip GPU compared to Intel's solution.

Intel's only saving grace has been that the rush to Fusion has taken AMD somewhat as surprised.  Mr. Dumbeck comments that the company is currently sold out of its existing stocks.  That shortage slowed sales from approximately 3.9 million in the first quarter to a mere 1.1 million the next two months.

That brief reprieve for Intel may be short-lived, though.  AMD is reportedly working to increase shipment of existing Fusion processors, as well as widening the channel to include new models.

AMD's current Fusion CPUs fall into the Brazos family, which feature the company's new mobile Bobcat core.  They are split between Ontario, which features lower power consumption and lower clock speeds, and Zacate, which features slightly higher power requirements and clock speeds.  Both Brazos flavors are built on a 40 nm process.

The company is preparing to ship a new type of Fusion "advanced processing unit" (APU) codenamed Llano.  Llano packs a beefier K10 core (found in the Phenom II and Athlon II processor lines), but a die shrink to 32 nm should help to mitigate the power bump, slightly.  The processors are expected to come in dual core and quad core varieties and fall between 25 watts and 100 watts in power consumption.

Intel doesn't exactly have a new processor that can compete at the same market point as Llano.  Atom will be much weaker than Llano.  Sandy Bridge will be much more powerful, but will also be more expensive.  The lack of a mid-market CPU offering from Intel should help Llano see strong sales when it begins shipping early next month.

Brazos has clearly exceeded AMD's wildest expectations.  With support from Dell Inc. (DELL), Sony Corp. (TYO:6758), Acer Inc. (TPE:2353), Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ), and Lenovo Group Ltd. (HKG:0992) AMD's Fusion project is seriously threatening Intel's netbook and notebook processor offerings.

With 28 nm enhanced Bobcat 1-4 core models and 32 nm 2-4 core Bulldozer based models due out next year, AMD clearly hopes to continue to apply the performance pressure on Intel's Atom line and pricing pressure on Intel's Sandy Bridge line.

As with its success in the GPU market, AMD's turn-around owes to the company shifting its focus to the consumer budget and mid-market sectors, versus the traditional enthusiast race that it has waged versus competitors in the GPU and CPU markets.  A company focusing on the majority of consumers, versus a select few?  What a novel thought!  But it sure appears to be working for AMD.

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RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By p3ngwin on 5/31/2011 12:12:46 AM , Rating: 5
What are these everyday tasks of "normal" users that Llano does better than SB?

current browsers, ALL of them, are GPU accelerated.

that means what 90% of the planet uses, a browser, benefits already from GPU acceleration.

All webpages, especially popular ones like Facebook, Twitter, web-games, Adobe Flash video and animations and AD's etc, WebMail, WEBdocs like Google-Docs, etc

We all use these services, and they are all GPU accelerated right now. Everything you use a browser for is already GPU accelerated , and will be even more so with time.

everything from scrolling web pages, font rendering, CSS acceleration, HTML, SVG, WebM, WebP, WebCL, WebGL, Javascript, etc

nearly everything the browser does is GPU accelerated right now, and that will only continue as services and products from the likes of Google, etc bring us closer to never needing an "out of browser" application.

what else apart from browsing?

well, Microsoft's Office 2010 is also GPU accelerated, so that's one of the most used office suites on the planet included in our GPU usage scenario.

Operating systems already use GPU acceleration too with MS's own Vista and Windows 7 for the UI and mediaplayback, and Apple's OS's also using the GPU for various OS tasks such as it's own UI and other examples such as "CoreImage" as part of the "QuartzCore" framework.

As technologies like OpenCL mature, more basic underlying OS functions will also be able to be GPU accelerated, as already researched in examples such as the Linux Kernel GPU acceleration projects.

so you see, it's not a question of "when" you will need GPU acceleration outside games, it's already here for "normal" people everywhere.

it's simply a matter of "how much" you will be using it.

with today's Browsers and Office suites already providing GPU accelerated benefits for normal people everywhere, it underlines the benefits of having a balanced CPU and GPU hardware solution.

right now, AMD have a balances processor solution that Intel can't match, which is why Intel is struggling to gain expertise in GPU's so it can be part of the "Hybrid processor" revolution that took Intel by surprise.

these AMD "Fusion" processors have a price/performance ratio that Intel will struggle to match. for consumers it means less cost, better performance, and in portables, better battery life.

Intel are a formidable force in the processor industry, and yet it must be embarrassing for them to have the relatively smaller AMD drag Intel into he future with technologies like x32-x64 extensions and hybrid "Fusion" processors.

AMD is surprising everyone with the benefits from purchasing ATI that almost broke the company 5 years ago.

RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By corduroygt on 5/31/11, Rating: -1
RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By corduroygt on 5/31/2011 2:27:38 AM , Rating: 1
Also, lol @ Javascript being GPU accelerated...go learn about programming and then come back here son.

RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By weskurtz0081 on 5/31/2011 11:14:38 AM , Rating: 2
I am curious, do you do any research/reading before you refute other peoples claims and instruct them to "go learn something about programming and then come back here son"?

Then you go on to bash "AMD Fanboys" as if his comments were based in some AMD fantasy land.....

Pfffft, clowns are the worst!

RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By corduroygt on 5/31/2011 11:17:05 AM , Rating: 1
Show me the link where JS is GPU accelerated. By its nature it can't be. It's not the type of task that lends itself to GPU acceleration.

RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By weskurtz0081 on 5/31/2011 12:19:01 PM , Rating: 1
I could be incorrect, but here's a link.

The first box speaks about it.

Even if I am incorrect in my assumption though, it doesn't make my point any less valid. You came in here, picked ONE part of his MULTI part post and started chastising, calling him a fanboy, and then referring to him as "son". NO ONE has to be a programmer to be able to comment on articles on DailyTech, and if you ARE a programmer, it doesn't mean you should be a dick to others on here or are somehow better than others and should condescend to them.

RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By corduroygt on 5/31/2011 12:23:44 PM , Rating: 1
That just enables using openCL with Javascript. The real problem is OpenCL is pretty much useless outside of the scientific/HPC computing realm.

I can say whatever I want to deluded fanboys, who think having an AMD GPU is going to render Facebook pages faster than a Sandy Bridge GPU. SB GPU provides sufficient performance for all mainstream tasks. PC gaming isn't mainstream.

RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By weskurtz0081 on 5/31/2011 1:12:37 PM , Rating: 2
But, that post didn't seem deluded or based off of fanboyism to me, but I could be wrong.

I think the cool thing is, AMD is bringing a solution to the market that it VERY affordable and performs (regardless of how much) better than Intel's offering (on the GPU side). The vast majority of notebook owners don't need i5 i7 performance, but they could benefit from better GPU performance.

RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By corduroygt on 5/31/11, Rating: 0
RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By encia on 5/31/2011 7:17:41 PM , Rating: 1
MS Office 2010 says Hi.

By corduroygt on 5/31/2011 9:00:10 PM , Rating: 1
3D features of MS Office amount to Powerpoint transitions, easily done by the SB GPU, and they're not that essential to begin with, unlike number crunching in Excel, where Intel dominates.

RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By encia on 5/31/2011 7:23:58 PM , Rating: 2
Tell me where to get $549 USD Intel Core i5 SB (17 watts) tablet.

By colegf12 on 6/4/2011 3:19:58 AM , Rating: 2
This guy is stupid.

By dotpoz on 5/31/2011 3:54:52 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, it is.

By Final8ty on 5/31/2011 6:38:27 AM , Rating: 3
Firefox 4 isn't GPU accelerated

It certainly is GPU accelerated.

RE: CPU isn't the interesting part...
By FITCamaro on 5/31/2011 12:52:59 PM , Rating: 1
. Not to mention those are such basic tasks that Sandy Bridge can do them just as well.

Any non-gaming and non-engineering niche application has very few GPU demands and a Sandy is more than enough.

Ok but the AMD is cheaper.

Why spend $200+ for a chip when you can spend like $50?

That is the point here. Not that AMD necessarily does things better. It is cheaper, for the vast majority of people's needs the CPU is adequate, and for things that ARE GPU accelerated, the onboard GPU for AMD is more powerful.

By corduroygt on 5/31/2011 4:18:35 PM , Rating: 2
Given preliminary Llano pricing, the difference between the two is more like $50, not $150. Once you get an SSD, the bottleneck becomes the CPU again. There's also energy efficiency, which Intel leads. For $50 more, a faster, more flops/Watt CPU is a better choice.

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