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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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Integrated...
By fxyefx on 10/26/2006 2:37:08 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder how long it will be until there are entire computer systems... storage, memory, chipset... integrated into one piece of silicon. Or are there some of those already?




RE: Integrated...
By Ralph The Magician on 10/26/2006 1:17:36 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that doesn't really make sense with the way technology changes so fast. You end up with a very, very, long development lifecycle.

We've kind of seen this with AMD already, having the memory controller built-in. While it has some advantages, it also have some big disadvantages. They have to rework the processor everytime they want to make a change.

When you have a modular design, you can step things up in increments, and customize the architecture to work on different platforms for different uses. When you want to upgrade a chipset to say, support a new standard, you don't have to start over.

Imagine if the CPU, GPU, Memory controller and chipset where all on a single piece of silicon. You'd be lucky to see a refresh once a year that really had any impact. By the time the refresh would make it to market, it would already be outdone, at least in part, by Intel with their more modular design.

Look at how they are doing things with Core. They can update the CPU, then a few months later, upgrade the northbridge to allow for a faster FSB, and then a month down the road introduce the new Intel GMA 3000 IGP. You don't have to wait until all three are done, then start working them together, then test them, an then eventually get them to market and hope that the speed combinations that you've created are actually those that people want/need.


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