AMD readies Fusion for 'new form factors'

Chipmaker's new roadmap shows Brazos platform, geared toward future PC form factors, containing chip codenamed Ontario with graphics and CPU integrated.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor
A clarification was made to this story. Read below for details.

SINGAPORE--AMD is set to release next year a new platform targeting "new form factors" under the ultrathin notebook category, an executive based in the island-state said Tuesday.

Codenamed Brazos, the platform will include Ontario, an APU (accelerated processing unit) under the chipmaker's Fusion strategy. Born out of the acquisition of graphics maker ATI Technologies, Fusion is AMD's branding for its plans to integrate a GPU and CPU on the same chip, and was initially targeted to launch in 2009.

Brazos follows Nile, AMD's 2010 ultrathin notebook platform, Tan See Ghee, marketing director for South Asia at AMD, said in a media briefing Tuesday on the company's roadmap. Brazos also has a "lower power envelope" compared to Sabine, another ultrathin notebook platform also to be released in 2011. Sabine will contain the Llano APU which had been taped out in 2009.

With the exception of Ontario, whose manufacturing process has not been determined, all APUs are manufactured under the 32-nanometer process technology.

The "new" form factors Brazos is angled toward refer to those new to the industry, not just AMD, he emphasized.

In 2008, Tan had noted that Fusion had characteristics that suit requirements of lightweight, small form factor notebooks.

When asked if AMD had plans for the tablet market that vendors such as Apple were reportedly moving toward this year, he pointed out that while AMD is "currently not painting a strategy" around tablets and slates, Brazos would be suited for form factors such as these.

AMD has already been working with Hewlett-Packard and some regional OEMS (original equipment manufacturers) on tablets, Tan said, but the HP models are all based on the Puma platform, introduced in 2008. AMD will continue to monitor the "exciting" tablet market to determine the right time to introduce new offerings, he added.

PC and desktop offerings to be expected
Other than Nile, AMD will introduce three other platforms for personal computers in the first half of this year. Leo, for "enthusiast" desktops, will contain CPUs with up to six cores, while Dorado is the company's mainstream desktop platform. In the mainstream notebook category, Danube will feature triple-core and quad-core processors. All platforms released in 2010 will be based on the 45-nm process.

On the server side, the chipmaker will roll out two platforms for different types of customer usage. Maranello, the higher-end AMD Opteron 6000 series geared toward high-performance computing, will be paired with the eight- and 12-core processor Magny-Cours and come in two- and four-socket options.

San Marino and Adelaide, which represent the AMD Opteron 4000 series for cloud computing and other functions requiring energy-efficiency, include the Lisbon four- and six-core chip and come in one- and two-socket options. All server platforms will be released in the first quarter of this year, according to Tan.

Also in 2010, AMD expects to allow customers to sample Bulldozer and Bobcat processors as well as Fusion products.

Tomo Kamiya, AMD's regional vice president for South Asia, noted that the company "seriously believes" the time has come to invest in the region. Citing AMD's recent Q4 and full-year 2009 financial performance, he said AMD was in a favorable position heading into 2010.

"From a [fabless] business model perspective and a financial perspective, we're in a very good position going forward," said Kamiya.

Clarification: The article initially stated that all APUs will be manufactured under the 32-nanometer process technology. AMD has, however, clarified that the information provided was inaccurate and that the process technology for Ontario, the APU included in the Brazos platform, has not yet been determined. The story has been updated to reflect this.
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