AMD Releases Fusion A-Series APUs, Courts App Developers


AMD is hoping the launch of new Fusion APUs and a full-court press of application developers will help the chip maker's comeback.

Last week AMD released its Fusion A-Series APUs (Accelerated Processing Units), code-named "Llano," for high performance consumer notebooks and desktops. The A-Series chips combine up to four x86 CPU cores with up to 400 Radeon graphics cores and dedicated HD video processing all on a single chip. The new Fusion chips emphasize DirectX 11-capable HD graphics and more than 10 hours of battery life.

The chip maker said the A-Series is now shipping in more than 150 different notebook and desktop models from leading OEMs. Tony Fernandez-Stoll, AMD's vice president of marketing for the Americas, said the Llano platform has received strong support right out of the gate. "It's looking very strong for retail and OEMs in North America," he said.

Fernandez–Stoll said the A-Series will allow users to harness graphics-intensive applications such as gesture interfaces and videoconferencing, as well as capabilities like multi-monitor support and 3D video. A new feature for the A-Series Fusion chips is AMD Steady Video, which provides image stabilization for video playback and makes shaky and unstable content appear smooth.

AMD pumped up its A-Series with the first annual Fusion Developer Summit in Bellevue, Washington, which hosted hundreds of software developers and focused on building applications through parallel programming and industry standards like OpenCL (Open Computing Language). Dave Kenyon, vice president of Worldwide Channel Marketing at AMD, said a key point in the company's Fusions strategy is building developer support for the new architecture.

"The first Fusion Developer Summit, I think, shows our willingness to engage with the developer community," Kenyon said. "Getting vertical applications based on Fusion for the channel is key."

Several software companies have already embraced A-Series, including Microsoft, Corel, and ArcSoft. But AMD is going beyond just the big name software houses and wants to court smaller ISVs to help build an ecosystem of specialized Fusion-based applications. While AMD's Fusion Developer Summit is in its first year and is much smaller in scale than the Intel Developer Forum, Kenyon said the event is a step in the right direction for the chip maker's channel push.

"The first step is getting a community of folks interested in Fusion and getting them the necessary tools, like SDKs, to make applications for the platform," Kenyon said, adding that AMD introduced a program that offers sample APUs to partners.

As for A-Series adoption, Kenyon believes that Llano-based notebooks will lead the way, thanks to both the new chip's integrated graphics power (which reduces the need for a discrete graphics card in the notebook) and the enormous growth in mobile devices. In addition, Kenyon said the development of consumer-focused video applications will help also help spark adoption of the A-Series APUs going forward.

"From a total available market standpoint, it's all about mobile device and consumer markets these days," Kenyon said. "It's really going to be a consumer-driven market for the next five years."