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Advanced Micro Devices is turning to Manju Hegde, the man who brought the powerful PhysX engine to rival graphics chip maker Nvidia, as AMD attempts to grow its heterogeneous computing ecosystem ahead of the launch of its first Fusion processors in the first half of 2011.
Hegde, who helped integrate PhysX hardware acceleration into Nvidia’s CUDA framework after Nvidia’s acquisition of his company, Ageia, was named head of AMD’s Fusion Experience Program on Thursday. In his new role, he said he'll be charged with building the developer ecosystem for what Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD calls Accelerated Processing Units, or APUs, as well as spreading the Fusion message to consumers, analysts and media.
“It’s a complex set of things that need to be executed,” Hegde told CRN on Thursday. “We’re making Fusion the center of our road map. When you’re changing the entire ecosystem, changing how developers program a processor, you don’t do that for just one processor. You do it for a road map. Developers want to develop for an entire road map that’s forward-compatible.”
AMD is expected to release its first APU, code-named Llano, in the first half of 2011. That processor and future chips on the Fusion product road map will incorporate both a discrete central processor and a discrete graphics processor on a single silicon die, Hegde said.
“Think of the advantages of that in terms of the buses, the power management capabilities, the tremendous bandwidth, the tremendous performance-per-watt advantage, which is something AMD has always done well and which we will continue to exploit,” he said.
Hegde said AMD, which acquired graphics chip maker ATI Technologies in 2006, was in a unique position to bring into the mainstream so-called heterogeneous computing that takes equal advantage of the strengths of both the CPU and the GPU.
“I think there’s a reason why AMD has chosen to go Fusion. Look at the company and its strengths. We can leverage a real competitive advantage,” he said.
AMD would be the company to take heterogeneous computing out of the high-performance compute (HPC) world and into the consumer space, Hegde said. But even though mainstreaming Fusion was AMD’s top priority, he added that AMD’s development of its APUs would not preclude the continued advancement of its discrete graphics product lines -- all the way up to the company’s FireStream graphics cards which compete at the high-end of the GPU market with Nvidia’s Quadro and Tesla products.
“AMD was for many years a top vendor of CPUs and after the merger with ATI, which was one of the world’s top vendors of high-performance GPUs, you now have tremendous capability in both these spaces. And it’s not the capability of a single part or product, but the capability of the experience in both areas that we have in our team.”