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AMD and ATI are already planning scalable designs for 2008
"Torrenza" platforms and unified GPU/CPU processors

AMD announced the $5.4B USD takeover of ATI earlier today, but the new company is already making large plans for the future.  Dave Orton, soon-to-be Executive Vice President of AMD's ATI Division, claimed that AMD and ATI would begin leveraging the sales of both companies by 2007.  However, a slide from the AMD/ATI merger documentation has already shown some interesting development plans for 2008.

Specifically, it appears as though AMD and ATI are planning unified, scalable platforms using a mixture of AMD CPUs, ATI chipsets and ATI GPUs.  This sort of multi-GPU, multi-CPU architecture is extremely reminiscent of AMD's Torrenza technology announced this past June, which allows low-latency communications between chipset, CPU and main memory. The premise for Torrenza is to open the channel for embedded chipset development from 3rd party companies. AMD said the technology is an open architecture, allowing what it called "accelerators" to be plugged into the system to perform special duties, similar to the way we have a dedicated GPU for graphics.

Furthermore, AMD President Dirk Meyer also confirmed that in addition to multi-processor platforms, stating "As we look towards ever finer manufacturing geometries we see the opportunity to integrate CPU and GPU cores together onto the same die to better serve the needs of some segments."  A clever DailyTech reader recently pointed out that AMD just recently filed its first graphics-oriented patent a few weeks ago.  The patent, titled "CPU and graphics unit with shared cache" seems to indicate that these pet projects at AMD are a little more than just pipe dreams.

During the AMD/ATI merger conference call, Meyer furthermore added that not too long ago, floating point processing was done on a separate piece of silicon.  Meyer claimed that the trend for the FPU integration into the CPU may not be too different than the evolution of the GPU into the CPU.

Bob Rivet, AMD's Chief Financial Officer, claims the combined company will save nearly $75M USD in licensing and development overlap in 2007 alone, and another $125M in 2008.  Clearly the combined development between the two companies has a few cogs in motion already.

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By archcommus on 7/24/2006 10:23:55 AM , Rating: 2
This seems to parallel the move to multi-core CPUs. Have a CPU with, say, 4 cores, 2 dedicated to everyday processing and 2 dedicated to graphics functions, or even 8 cores with 2 for everyday processing, 2 for graphics, then physics, audio, and chipset functions. Basically one chip that does everything, plugged into one socket, with 8+ GB of RAM shared between everything, with only one or two expansion slots in case you want to add something small.

Does this sound feasible at all? This was just the first thing that came to mind for me.

By rrsurfer1 on 7/24/2006 10:35:32 AM , Rating: 2
Sorta. There are including more cores on CPUs now, but they are mostly the same, the GPU core would be much different. GPU's are by nature massively parallel. CPU's are going in the direction of being more parallel but massive parallelization != better performance in the CPU arena like it does with a GPU. So you'll still see a very specialized GPU when it is on-die. But functionally I guess you could say it's just another core.

By Acanthus on 7/25/2006 4:27:40 AM , Rating: 2
What youre describing is called "system on a chip" and the concept has been around for a very long time.

It will becoming feasible with 45nm.

By archcommus on 7/25/2006 9:08:02 AM , Rating: 2
Is this what the industry is moving towards, though? Multi-core processors that do everything? Is this different from "unified architectures"?

By Tyler 86 on 7/26/2006 11:56:18 PM , Rating: 2
The embedded market is (and has) always (been) moving towards system-on-a-chip - cellphones, IPods, etc...

Unified architecture just means more abstractly modular and upgradable... eg; Faster RAM for your CPU means faster RAM for your GPU, GPUs can perform 'general purpose' CPU operations (termed 'GPGPU'), CPUs can perform 'general purpose' GPU operations (probably not gonna happen, but it's in the same theme of 'unified architecture'), or CPUs that are GPUs... heh...

By Tyler 86 on 7/26/2006 11:58:56 PM , Rating: 2
So, "Does this go hand-in-hand at all with CPUs moving to multi-core?"

Yes, and no, not exactly.

It's just a development of the organic supply and demand of the marketplace. It just so happens seperate cores on the same silicon complement the development of integrating a GPU into a CPU.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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