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The future of CPU/GPU computing

With the completion of AMD’s acquisition of ATI, AMD has announced its working on new CPU/GPU silicon that integrates the CPU and graphics processor into a single unit. The upcoming silicon is currently codenamed Fusion and is expected in the late 2008 or early 2009 time frame. AMD claims Fusion will bring:

AMD intends to design Fusion processors to provide step-function increases in performance-per-watt relative to today’s CPU-only architectures, and to provide the best customer experience in a world increasingly reliant upon 3D graphics, digital media and high-performance computing. With Fusion processors, AMD will continue to promote an open platform and encourage companies throughout the ecosystem to create innovative new co-processing solutions aimed at further optimizing specific workloads. AMD-powered Fusion platforms will continue to fully support high-end discrete graphics, physics accelerators, and other PCI Express-based solutions to meet the ever-increasing needs of the most demanding enthusiast end-users.

AMD expects to integrate Fusion for all its product categories including laptops, desktops, workstation, servers and consumer electronics products. Judging by the inclusion of PCI Express support, it would appear the integrated GPU is more of a value solution—similar to Intel’s cancelled Timna processor. It is unknown if AMD will retain the current Athlon and Opteron names with the launch of Fusion. This isn't too surprising as AMD and ATI previously promised unified product development including vague mentions of hybrid CPU and GPU products. AMD also previously announced its Torrenza open architecture as well.

In addition to Fusion, AMD expects to ship integrated platforms with ATI chipsets in 2007. The platforms are expected empower commercial clients, notebooks, gaming and media computing. AMD expects users will benefit from greater battery life on the next-generation Turion platforms and greater enhancements with AMD Live! systems. DailyTech previously reported on ATI's chipset roadmap which outlined various integrated graphics and enthusiast products.

With the development of Fusion and upcoming integrated AMD platforms, it is unknown what will happen to NVIDIA’s chipset business, which currently relies mainly on AMD chipset sales.

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RE: good workstation solution?
By Kim Leo on 10/25/2006 6:25:31 AM , Rating: 4
the thing is that it would need to use system ram wich you probably already know, is much slower than those on high end graphics cards today.

RE: good workstation solution?
By otispunkmeyer on 10/25/2006 7:20:57 AM , Rating: 2
its no different to current IGP's in that respect, but with DDR2 and DDR3 on the horizon system bandwidth will be rather decent and combined with AMD's on board memory controller (i presume they will keep this) the latencies will be much improved

of course it wont hold a candle to a discrete solution, but i bet it'll be more than enough for casual gamers and most 3d CAD packages etc


should make the system more refined, less heat, less cost etc

RE: good workstation solution?
By Targon on 10/25/2006 7:31:40 AM , Rating: 2
By the time Fusion comes out, I expect that we will see DDR-3 or perhaps even a quad-bank memory controller on the CPU to help with this.

There are also two seperate workstation markets out there, the low end and high end. For low end workstations, then this will be a great solution that will cut costs. For the high end, if the CPU/GPU can work in Crossfire mode, then we may see the CPU/GPU plus TWO crossfire enabled graphics cards for a total of three GPUs.

RE: good workstation solution?
By Nocturnal on 10/25/06, Rating: 0
RE: good workstation solution?
By Spivonious on 10/26/2006 4:50:59 PM , Rating: 4
I don't know because that would take them right out of the enthusiast market. Why would I upgrade my CPU everytime I wanted a new graphics card?

RE: good workstation solution?
By jp7189 on 10/25/2006 10:52:02 AM , Rating: 2
the thing is that it would need to use system ram wich you probably already know, is much slower than those on high end graphics cards today.

The path currently is: CPU -> chipset -> PCIe -> GPU

Having direct CPU/GPU communications will vastly improve any app that doesn't use large testures - the vast majority of users.

RE: good workstation solution?
By ogreslayer on 10/25/2006 2:57:24 PM , Rating: 2
You are forgetting that unless both have access to memory through the IMC; you still have at least one of those steps. No overhead would actually be removed as you are now flooding the HT interconnect. To top that off even if they go Quad-Channel by the time they start integrating, the bandwidth is not even close to what R600 is supposed to have. DDR3 and 4 are not gonna be any kind of salvation as all these offer only efficency, they are still DDR and all we will get is a speed bump. We can pray for lower latencies.

AMD is not a big enough player to be the one who starts the move to the next flavor of RAM. Intel has to do it and increasing the memory speed has proven to have marginal effects on Core 2 products when compare to Athlon64X2s. I wouldn't expect any real rush from Intel until we get the 1333FSB and they move to a 256-bit bus. This is gonna be integrated graphics level stuff. Unless Nvidia can pump out a CPU; Intel and AMD/ATI are gonna smother them out of the integrated market for desktops and notebooks.

RE: good workstation solution?
By Viditor on 10/29/2006 7:21:54 PM , Rating: 2
unless both have access to memory through the IMC; you still have at least one of those steps. No overhead would actually be removed as you are now flooding the HT interconnect

I don't think people yet understand the way Fusion will work in tandem with Torrenza yet...
Phil Hester explained a bit to TheReg in this interview:
Notice that Fusion will be only a part of the modular design...
Very good article...

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