AMD throws its weight behind 'balanced' platform

The high-definition movement and a growing number of gamers add wind to the chipmaker's tune of blending strong CPU and graphics performance.

SINGAPORE--The future of computing is literally visual, AMD executives said Tuesday.

The trend of high-definition becoming mainstream signals that 3D is increasingly more than just the domain of gamers, John Taylor, AMD's director for product communications, noted at a briefing for regional media in the country.

The growing importance of a satisfactory visual experience has led to an emphasis on the computing platform rather than just CPU processing power, he pointed out.

"Sight is the primary sense served by computing…getting that [visual computing] experience requires a balanced platform design," said Taylor, adding that the balanced approach meant having an equally strong CPU, chipset and graphics component.

Chris Hook, AMD's head of desktop platform and performance communications, said the simplistic way of looking at things would be that users should be spending the same amount on graphics as they would on their CPU.

Technology innovation from both AMD and ATI which it acquired in 2006, said Hook, meant that users get both performance gains in computing power and graphics rendering and displays at affordable prices.

AMD executives also reiterated Tuesday the roadmap for 45-nanometer processors and platforms.

Having launched the Spider desktop performance platform late last year, the chipmaker will roll out Leo, the successor to the Spider platform next year, said Hook.

While the Spider uses quad- and triple core Phenom chips with the 7-series chipsets and ATI Radeon HD3000 series GPUs, Leo will comprise 45nm "Stars" cores, 8-series chipsets and ATI R700 generation GPUs.

There will also be a refresh of the Cartwheel mainstream desktop platform, using the 45nm processors and newer generation GPUs, over the current Phenom processors and ATI Radeon HD3000 GPUs.

This quarter, Taylor noted, AMD will launch Puma, the platform for notebooks comprising the dual-core Turion mobile processor, 7-series chipsets and ATI Mobility Radeon HD discrete graphics. The discrete HD3000 series graphics processor not only makes Puma the first integrated notebook platform with Microsoft DirectX10.1 support, it also improves by up to five times the 3D graphics performance compared with using just the RS780M graphics chip integrated onto the motherboard.

The quad-core Opteron processor based on the 45-nanometer manufacturing process, codenamed Shanghai, is also "on track to go into production in late 2008", according to Taylor. The Shanghai processors are expected to boost a 10 percent to 20 percent improvement in performance over the current Opteron range.

In addition, the Austin, Texas-based AMD launched globally Monday the AMD Business Class initiative, which includes a range of new Athlon and Phenom processors for commercial desktop PCs. Processors meant for business notebooks will be made available when the Puma platform is ready.