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"Steam Roller" and "Jaguar" cores will drive AMD's 2013 next-generation successors to "Llano" and "Brazos", supposedly.  (Source: India Kev/Free Extras)
You've heard of "Krishna" and "Trinity", but how about "Hondo", "Kaverl", "Kabini", and "Samara"?

German hardware site 3DCenter has published an intriguing series of slides, date July 2011, which reveal CPU and graphics chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.'s (AMD)  "APU" plans for 2011 through 2013.  

I. Background

In January of this year, the situation looked bleak for AMD.  Rival CPU-maker Intel Corp. (INTC) had just dropped Sandy Bridge, a brand new 32 nm architecture.  AMD's own Phenom II high-end CPU lineup was still sitting at 45 nm and despite aggressive pricing was fast becoming badly dated in peformance.

But while Intel had conquered the high-end, its low end solutions were less attractive. Sandy Bridge was relatively expensive for budget laptops and netbooks, and the Intel Atom platform was looking dated graphically, still relying on Intel GMA 31xx graphics.

AMD pounced deploying Brazos "advanced processing units" (APUs), chips that combined its Evergreen graphics cores with its new low-power Bobcat cores.  The chips stacked up similar to Atom in CPU performance, but they offered superior graphics and the ability to use power-saving DDR3 memory (Atom only supported DDR2).  Branded the C-Series and E-Series, the new chips were a sales hit, driving an AMD resurgence and profits.

AMD followed up with a beefier set of APUsLlano, branded the A-Series.  These chips swapped the Bobcat cores for a 32 nm die shrink of the K10/Stars architecture (dubbed Husky cores).  The number of shaders in the GPU was also bumped by a factor of 2 to 5 times.  Whereas Brazos primarily gunned for Atom's market share, the new chips went head-to-head with low-end Sandy Bridge chips.

Of course Sandy Bridge was an APU of sorts too, with a surprisingly peppy on-die GPU -- the HD 3000.  But members of the A-Series managed to scrape a narrow win over Sandy Bridge in graphics, which helped distract from Sandy Bridge's superior CPU performance.  

In testing by AnandTech the i5 chip handily beats AMD in CPU-centric tests, but the AMD chip pulls off an equally impressive win in gaming.  And thanks to attractive pricing, AMD clearly is doing a good job getting OEMs onboard and moving product into the channel -- Newegg lists 21 laptops powered by A-Series CPUs and 24 powered by E-Series or C-Series chips.

II. What's Next: The Known

Turning to the leaked roadmap, here it is:

Fig. 1: The leaked roadmap gives us a refresher on 2012 -- an a peak at AMD's 2013 Fusion plans.

And here's the code-name guide from the slides:


Fig. 2: AMD draws its codenames from wild cats, cities, rivers, and even Indian provinces.

It shows that AMD likely has already shipped engineering samples of its Llano refresh "Trinity".  Trinity prospect launch date is January 2012.  Its chips will be branded E2s, A4s, A6s, or A8s.  It will come with a graphics refresh ("London"/Northern Islands) and will swap the "Husky" cores for "Piledriver" cores -- "enhanced" versions of AMD's new 32 nm Bulldozer architecture.

Confusingly, Trinity's platform has yet two more code-name -- "Comal" for laptops and "Virgo" for desktops -- and the slides point to it being sold alongside Llano for Q1 2012, with Llano being phased out by Q2 2012.  This may create some market confusion as both the new and the old chips will share the same A-Series branding.

The Zacate chips will be replaced by Wichita, keeping the E-Series branding.  The Ontario chips will be replaced by Krishna, retaining the C-Series branding.  Both lineups will feature a die size will shrink to 28 nm.  New "London" graphics will be dropped in.  And the Bobcat cores will be "enhanced" variants (though this may refer simply to lower power consumption via the die shrink).  

The slides show Wichita and Krishna collectively referred to as Deccan.  They are slotted for a Q2 2012 launch, and will again sell along-side the previous models for one quarter, sharing the same brand name.  By Q3 2012 Brazos will be out, Deccan will be full in place.


Fig. 3: Q1 and Q2 2012 should be confusing as it appears that two generations of chips will be sold under the same brand name during these periods.

AMD's 6 W Desna chip, which is geared at tablets, but has seen minimal OEM interest, will be replaced with Hondo, a 4.5 watt design, disappointingly still built on the 40 nm node.

Interestingly, Deccan and Desna will be getting brand new chipsets ("Yuba" and "Hudson", respectively), but Comal is going to use virtually the same chipset as Llano (Llano used FS1, Comal uses FS1r2, a minor update).

Of course most of this information has been pretty widely publicized in bits and pieces, but it's useful to consolidate it and recap the latest info on the timing of the chip drops.

III. 2013 Brings New Cores to the Fusion Lineup

The slides indicate an intriguing battle shaping up in the APU sector.  Remember, Intel is planning to bring DirectX 11 goodness to its iGPUs with Ivy Bridge at the 22 nm node in 2012.  With 22 nm Atom processors planned for 2013, it's likely that they will get some DirectX 11 TLC as well, and it's already been confirmed that the 2013 Atom will be getting the power-sipping tri-gate transistors that year as well.

In short, AMD has better bring it, if it hopes to hang on to its short-lived low-to-mid-range lead.

AMD is pinning its hopes on two new core designs -- "Steamroller", the successor to "Bulldozer", and "Jaguar", the successor to "Bobcat".  As with before Steamroller will occupy the higher-power, higher-performance side of things (think Llano), Jaguar will occupy the low-power, lower-performance niche.

Indus (named after a river in India) will replace Comal (named for a river in Texas), which in turn replaced Llano (named for another river in Texas ... catch the trend?).  The Indus APU will be known as Kaveri (there appears to be a typo in AMD's slides, which refers to them as Trinity, the code-name of the last-gen Comal platform's APUs).

On the low-power end Kerala (named for a south-west Indian state) will replace Deccan (named for a southern Indian plateau), which in turned replaced Brazos (named for a river/county in Texas... whoops).  

On the tablet-geared ultra-low voltage end, will be Samara (named after a Russian river) will replace Hondo (likely named for New Mexico's Rio Hondo River), which replaced Desna (named for another Russian river).

Indus will receive a new chipset, "Bolton".  Kerala will get a new chipset named "Yangtze" (more rivers!).  And Samara will get a chipset named Salton (code-named in honor of the salty Californian lake).


Fig. 4: New chipsets will air in 2013 for all Fusion platforms

Little is known about what improvements these chipsets will bring.  And the slides revealed no details about what GPUs might be included on die as upgrades to the Northern Islands designs found in the previous generation's dies.

But whatever AMD is cooking up in these categories, it better bring its A-game or Intel's 22 nm Atoms could be eating their lunch.  2013 should be an interesting year indeed.

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AMD I guess
By msroadkill612 on 9/25/2011 11:01:36 AM , Rating: 5
Dont quote me on the details, but "handy margin" isnt how I recall the benchmarks.

for similar money, you get a small cpu boost from intel and a huge leap in graphics from AMD. The latter is what counts for 90% or more of the desktop market.

12% market share isnt much, but its 50% better than it was recently, & they cant make enough. Not uncommon w/ new, hit products. Intel should be so lucky - improves margins too. AMD saw this coming 6 months ago & ordered stacks of wafers & capacity. AMD are v happy campers now methinks. shame they dumped meyer - he did a v good job methinks.

who cares what western fanboys think. The action is in the fresh markets of s/e asia. AMD is big in china I hear, as they should be.

a mate told an interesting yarn. a mutual friend married a chinese lady, & the whole gifts thing made trips home unaffordable. Now it is not expected from relatives & is much easier for her to visit.

The chinese seem pretty PC savvy to me. I doubt they will be so easily gulled by intel marketing as the west.

Any one who pays a premium now for possible future needs is an idiot. The worst next gen apu will beat the best current gen apu by a mile, at a fraction the cost - & 2 years is easily a gen nowadays. w/ amd, usually (~ last decade) just replace the processor - intel - new mobo & ram - respect AMD.

Unless intel can show i save more in power bills over 2 years NPV, I go AMD.

Also, god help enthusiasts if they hand intel a monopoly, yet they froth at the mouth to encourage it. go figure.

RE: AMD I guess
By bug77 on 9/25/2011 4:41:00 PM , Rating: 1
for similar money, you get a small cpu boost from intel and a huge leap in graphics from AMD. The latter is what counts for 90% or more of the desktop market.

I'm not so sure about that. That small CPU boost will wipe the floor with any AMD CPU while encoding video. Intel also has AVX and AES-NI which are also head and shoulders above any AMD offering.
As for the GPU, AMD will successfully replace a $50 dedicated video card, true, but how many people were upgrading from integrated graphics to a $50 video card anyway?
IMHO, AMD = less performance (not power, Llano can still burn through 100W) for less money.

PS All the above is about desktop computing.

RE: AMD I guess
By silverblue on 9/26/2011 4:04:12 AM , Rating: 3
Intel has had better instruction set support than AMD for pretty much ever. Bulldozer is the first CPU family that flips this on its head.

Video encoding is one of the areas that having a Thuban might make sense, especially the lower models - overclock them and you're happy. In the case of the 1100T, those two extra cores do close the gap on the 2500K in a few instances (x264 2nd pass and POV-Ray SMP benchmark are actual wins but definitely the exception rather than the norm) but outside of productivity, I wouldn't own a Thuban when a 2500K would be perfect for pretty much everything, unless, as I mentioned, you could get, say, a 1055T and overclock it nicely.

Llano's GPU is good for a lot of people because most people aren't hardcore gamers, so it makes sense for a cheap entertainment desktop. Llano can indeed burn through a decent amount of power, but you have to remind yourself that a year back, similar AMD CPUs were doing the same thing and didn't have a 400-shader GPU on board. 100W is definitely not typical usage either, and to get similar graphical performance out of a Sandy Bridge in most games, you'd require that external discrete card which Llano already has on-die. Llano is meant to compete with the i3s at the most and they generally do quite well in that department, power usage notwithstanding.

RE: AMD I guess
By bug77 on 9/25/2011 4:44:34 PM , Rating: 4
Unless intel can show i save more in power bills over 2 years NPV, I go AMD.

Then don't follow this link:

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