AMD Fusion APUs Launched At CES

AMD on Tuesday at CES launched the Fusion line of Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) which integrate multicore CPU technology with HD video acceleration and high-performance GPU processing on a single die.

AMD previously showcased its first Fusion chips at its annual Financial Analyst Day in November 2010, on the day the first Llano APUs shipped to the company's OEM partners.

"We believe that AMD Fusion processors are, quite simply, the greatest advancement in processing since the introduction of the x86 architecture more than forty years ago," said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, AMD Products Group, in a statement. "It’s a new category, a new approach, and opens up exciting new experiences for consumers."

Fusion products boast stutter-free HD video playback, powerful performance DirectX 11-capable graphics and long battery life. It also includes a video acceleration block and a high-speed bus for moving data across different cores within the overall architecture, among several features altogether known as AMD's Vision Engine.

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AMD's 2011 mainstream Fusion platform targets mainstream notebooks and desktops with an emphasis on high performance. It includes the 32nm A-Series Llano APU, with up to four x86 cores and a DirectX 11-capable discrete-level GPU, which is set to appear in products mid-year. The low-power platform E-Series and C-Series Fusion APUs featuring the new x86 core code-named Bobcat, are also available. Designed for mobile devices, Bobcat is AMD's first x86 core since 2003.

With AMD Fusion leveraging GPU processing power, applications can simultaneously and quickly process tasks including multimedia, gaming, Web browsing, and video conferencing.

AMD believes its GPU computing can be applied to broader high-performance applications, much like rival Nvidia's CUDA architecture, code-named Fermi, an increasingly important part of Nvidia's business model as a graphics specialist.

With the official release this week, several desktop and notebooks featuring AMD Fusion APUs launching at CES will now be available. Among them, HP's Pavilion dm1 notebook, which was unveiled Tuesday, will include an AMD dual-core 1.6GHz Vision E-350 Fusion processor, alongside an AMD Radeon HD 6310M graphics card.

Weighing in at a light 3.5 pounds, with an 11.6-inch chassis and an LED-backlit 1366x768 display, the Pavilion dm1 includes a 320GB hard drive and includes 3GB of memory as standard, and can support up to 8GB. It comes with three 3 USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port, an HDMI output, and a 6-cell battery that HP says can last up to nine hours.

Next: Other Systems Featuring Fusion

On Monday, Lenovo introduced its entry-level ThinkPad X120e notebookwhich targets business users and runs both Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional. It includes 30 percent longer battery compared to previous ThinkPad models. It comes with an 11.6-inch screen and a full-size keyboard a Webcam, a 4-in-1 multicard reader, an HDMI port and support for Energy Star 5. The ThinkPad X120e will be available next month for a starting price of under $400.

AMD says it expects Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, MSI, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba to make product announcements regarding Fusion-based systems at CES. The company did not mention Apple among OEMs using Fusion.

The possibility of an AMD-Apple partnership had arisen after a presentation given in November at AMD's 2010 Financial Analyst Day seemed to show Apple Macbooks paIred with Fusion chips.

Tablets and embedded designs based on AMD Fusion APUs are expected be available later in Q1 2011, according to a statement from AMD.

Meanwhile, Intel officially unveiled its Sandy Bridge integrated graphics platform on Tuesday. Companies including Apple and Lenovo have announced plans to incorporate the Core i7 2600K and Core i5 2500K Sandy Bridge processors in their products. In addition, Intel says that the channel also will play a major role in the chips' distribution strategy.