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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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Possibility of a smarter implementation?
By RyanHirst on 10/25/2006 4:08:05 PM , Rating: 3
I don't see an on-chip "integrated" graphics solution as being the end-goal of this venture. AMD doesn't have enough to gain. Why would they deliberately drive up the price of their processors (and production costs)?

I think these points:
1) Instruction sets for graphics processors are standardized.
2) Graphics processors are inherently massively parallel architectures.
3) The new generation of games are multithreaded. Future games will only be more elaborately and efficiently multithreaded. With four-core chips around the corner, you can't afford to be releasing a game engine that uses only 1/4 of the processing power. Not when Alan Wake can dedicate a whole core just to the physics of a tornado.
4)** Windows Vista removes the separation layer for hardware. ***

Lead logically to:
The inclusion of on-chip 3-D instruction sets which will not only be sufficient for the "integrated" market, but which will also run in parallel with, and compliment, discrete graphics. If you have 3D instruction sets available on the CPU there is no reason inherently parallel loads like shaders cannot be sent to multiple destinations, not just WITHIN a given piece of hardware, but between pieces of hardware. Plus, by owning ATI, AMD could gain leverage with game companies to provide a 3D load in which a large number of operations which require a great deal of computation but very little RAM (say, the size that could fit into a small, on-chip cache) can be routed independently of other 3D data (if this is even necessary under DX10/Vista).

By RyanHirst on 10/25/2006 4:09:57 PM , Rating: 2
Hahaha, DUNNO you already said this!
Sorry, the whole list of posts didn't appear the first time I looked through this thread.

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