AMD has officially launched the Fusion A-Series of laptop processors, formerly codenamed Llano, promising better graphical performance than Intel's Core i3, i5 and i7 series of chips but with comparable battery life.
AMD has officially launched the Fusion A-Series of laptop processors, codenamed Llano. Photo credit: AMD
The 32nm Llano system-on chip (SoC) processor is the chipmaker's answer to Intel's next-generation Sandy Bridge chip architecture, AMD said on Tuesday, and combines a small number of x86 cores with a Radeon many-core GPU.
"In an increasingly digital and visually oriented world, consumers are placing ever-higher priorities on multitasking, vivid graphics, lifelike games, lag-free videos, and ultimate multimedia performance," AMD said in a statement. "To meet these needs, the AMD A-Series APUs [AMD's marketing term for the architecture] combine up to four x86 CPU cores with powerful DirectX11-capable discrete-level graphics and up to 400 Radeon cores along with dedicated HD video processing on a single chip."
Llano is part of the Fusion family of processors and is the successor to the company's Zacate and Ontario chips. The chip has been shipping to manufacturers for testing and product integration since April and, the company says, will be important for revenue in the second half of 2011.
AMD hopes that the A6 Llano processor, expected to go into systems priced at $599 (£365) and up, will compete with Intel's Sandy Bridge Core i3 processors.
As with Intel's tablet-targeted Lincroft Atom chips, AMD is promising substantial battery life for systems running the Llano APUs, claiming up to 10.5 hours of battery life.
This is made possible by power management built into the chip, which allows cores' power consumption to be scaled up and down in response to demand and for the attached GPUs to be completely turned off if not in use.
AMD has over 145 'design wins' — hardware products — that it expects to be powered by the chips. The company claims that the A-series of Fusion chips will draw between 35W and 45W of power, putting them close to Intel's yet-to-launch Core-based Ultrabook category of devices.
Whether Llano will be enough to help AMD break out of its limited share in the x86 market remains to be seen.– Roger Kay, Endpoint Analysis
Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Analysis, wrote on Tuesday that the chips' swathe of graphical cores allows them to perform local supercomputing services for consumers on graphically intensive tasks.
"The Llano graphics engine [...] can be put to use doing personal supercomputing using as many as 400 Radeon graphics cores (on the A8 [processor]) to crunch up to 500 gigaflops of data in parallel for tasks such as image post-processing," Kay wrote.
"Whether Llano will be enough to help AMD break out of its limited share in the x86 market remains to be seen, but Fusion architecture and its realisation in the company's new APU products give AMD the best shot it's had in years," Kay wrote.
The Llano series ranges in cores from two to four and clock speeds go from 1.4GHz up to 2.1GHz.
Llano laptop range
On Tuesday HP announced 11 laptops and notebooks powered by Llano with pricing ranging between $498 (£303) and $699. HP said that the use of Llano could improve business tasks including videoconferencing, web browsing and graphics-intensive applications, such as computer-aided design (CAD) or video-processing applications.
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