AMD Fusion Platform Combines CPU and GPU

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AMD is getting ready to put its 2006 acquisition of graphics company ATI to good use with the 2011 launch of what it’s calling the Fusion APU. The Fusion APU (accelerated processing unit) combines both the CPU (central processing unit) and the GPU (graphics processing unit) together onto a single silicon die. The end result will be less latency when running applications since commands won’t have as far to travel, which in turn will use less overall power while still maintaining performance and offering longer battery life for portable devices.

Here’s how AMD explains it:

“At the most basic level, AMD’s new Accelerated Processing Units combine general-purpose x86 CPU cores with programmable vector processing engines on a single silicon die. AMD’s APUs also include a variety of critical system elements, including memory controllers, I/O controllers, specialized video decoders, display outputs, and bus interfaces, but real appeal of these chips stems from the inclusion of both scalar and vector hardware as full-fledged processing elements. Others have lashed a CPU and a basic graphics unit together in a single package, but none have attempted this feat with truly programmable GPUs like those in the AMD Fusion designs, let alone GPUs that can be programmed using high-level industry-standard tools like DirectCompute and OpenCL.”

From consumers’ standpoint, we can likely expect to see thinner and lighter portables at more aggressive price points that provide decent performance. The line will be present in several different types of devices—laptops, desktops, netbooks, etc.—with the overarching theme being more bang for the buck. The Fusion APUs will begin rolling out in the first half of next year.

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