Print 69 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on Nov 1 at 3:12 PM

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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By Beenthere on 10/25/2006 8:49:46 AM , Rating: -1
I think AMD is being very honest when they call the merger of AMD and ATI a CPU power house. This is about a lot more than integrated graphics as will be seen in late '07. Expect Nvidia to try and buy an X86 CPU license or they will be left out in the cold.

By Fanon on 10/25/2006 11:17:55 AM , Rating: 2
That's an idea. What's stopping nVidia entering the CPU race? I'm not suggesting that they should, as that's yet another socket, architecture, etc to remember - but they're invovled with everything else... why not the CPU?

By mindless1 on 11/1/2006 3:12:48 PM , Rating: 2
Remember that lower end systems sell in highest volumes, and most people dont' upgrade their CPU or video on an OEM box. They are becoming insulated from issues of CPU socket or architecture and still see same things as always, # of features, marketing buzzwords, frequency, and cost. In other words, more integration inevitably means the most common tasks are supported by a cheaper to build system.

By dwalton on 10/25/2006 11:44:34 AM , Rating: 4
What's the transistor budget for an high end GPU from ATI? 384 million transistors is a lot to add to a CPU and we are talking current gen and not R600 which is rumored to be 500 million+. AMD will probably reduce transistor count with better custom logic but adding that much real estate has to kill yields and add cost.

Plus, neither Nvidia nor ATI sell enough high end GPUs to persuade AMD to commit a production line to a CPU/GPU that at most will sell a few hundred thousand chips if that. Furthermore, AMD would have to be retooled thier production line every 6 months to deal with refreshes.

A CPU/GPU with IGP performance makes sense due to fact there is market of millions for such chips versus a market of thousands.

By dwalton on 10/27/2006 1:19:30 PM , Rating: 2
You're talking high margins and I'm talking high volume. Can you imagine AMD selling a FX 80 for $1600.00 and still maintain volume sales of a either a highend standalone GPU or CPU.

$1600 is pretty forgiving once you take account that margins on GPU arent that great at start of production and then having to deal with yield of a cpu that has multiple cores.

By Ulfhednar on 10/25/2006 12:46:32 PM , Rating: 3
Expect Nvidia to try and buy an X86 CPU license or they will be left out in the cold.
They already did.

By Russell on 10/25/2006 12:55:56 PM , Rating: 2
What? When? Link?

By sdsdv10 on 10/25/2006 3:21:29 PM , Rating: 2
This is currently just at the rumor stage, but here is one link to Engadget referencing an Inquirer article. There are others.

Once again, Google is your friend (just type in "nvidia x86"!

By Viditor on 10/27/2006 8:53:19 PM , Rating: 2
They already did

They are developing, but they haven't bought the x86 license yet...

By ceefka on 10/27/2006 3:18:33 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps nVidia is interested in partnering/collaborating with a company like Xilinx. They can make GPU's themselves and FPGA's is a Xylinx's field. They would still be a very interesting partner for AMD or even Intel if they have their version of Torrenza.

By fumar on 10/31/2006 12:44:58 AM , Rating: 2
This would work well with the integrated graphics market, also known as the normal user. But AMD would still need to make regular CPUs to accommodate the high end home user, the enthusiast, high end professional users, and server usage. You don't need 4 CPUs/GPUs in a server.

I haven't seen AMD's roadmap in awhile, but is it safe to assume fusion will come out when 45nm AMD parts are released?

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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