Computex 2010: AMD demonstrates Fusion APUs

AMD gave its first public demonstration of a working Fusion Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) at Computex on Wednesday.
Written by John Morris, Contributor

AMD gave its first public demonstration of a working Fusion Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) at Computex earlier today.

Only a few weeks ago AMD announced its 2010 laptop and desktop platforms. Meanwhile its Fusion APUs aren't due until next year. That left little in the way of new products for AMD to announce at Computex, though the company did its best to generate some buzz for Fusion.

The Fusion APU combines an x86 CPU, DirectX 11 graphics processing unit, video processor and other co-processors on a single silicon die. Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's Products Group, introduced Fusion by holding aloft a 300mm silicon wafer containing hundreds of the APUs each of which contains more than 1 billion transistors at 32nm.

AMD plans to release two different APUs: Llano for mainstream laptops and desktops and the low-power Ontario for smaller laptops, netbooks and other devices. We know that Llano will have up to four cores and will be manufactured at 32nn by GlobalFoundries, the semiconductor foundry established by the spin-off of AMD's manufacturing operations. AMD still hasn't said who will manufacture the dual-core Ontario, though there have been reports that TSMC is manufacturing it on its 40nm bulk silicon process. Nevertheless both are sampling now-industry jargon meaning that AMD is showing it to select customers--and will be released sometime in the first half of 2011, Bergman said.

AMD showed two demonstrations of a "low-power Fusion APU," which presumably refers to a dual-core Ontario. The first showed it ability to play a demanding DirectX 11 game, Rebellion's Aliens vs. Predator. Bergman noted that this was the same game AMD used last fall to demonstrate the capabilities of its high-end discrete GPU. "Can you imagine getting performance of that quality in a netbook this size?" he asked the audience while holding up a standard netbook that could accommodate an Ontario APU. The second demonstration showed the performance in Internet Explorer with and without APU acceleration using a Browser Flip test in the latest IE 9 Platform Preview. The performance increased from 2-3 frames per second without acceleration to about 60 fps using the APU.

Fusion APUs support open standards for GPU computing (DirectCompute and OpenCL) and 3D graphics (DirectX, OpenGL and WebGL) and AMD said it is working with software developers such as Adobe, Arcsoft, Corel, Cyberlink and Microsoft to optimize software for its APUs. AMD also announced an investment fund, the AMD Fusion Fund, to jumpstart this effort.

Separately GlobalFoundries announced at Computex that it would spend an additional $3 billion to expand its manufacturing capacity in Dresden, Germany and at a new fab it is constructing in upstate New York. This is in addition to $6 billion that the foundry's new owners have pledged to spend over the next few years as GlobalFoundries seeks to challenge the TSMC, the world's largest leading-edge foundry.

Editorial standards