AMD's Plan to Take Back Laptops: The Llano "APU"

If you want a laptop with graphics and battery performance that isn't totally embarrassing, you're basically stuck with some combination of Intel and Nvidia gear. Now, finally, AMD's Llano, a CPU/GPU combo, or "APU", could give us a serious alternative.

AMD running with the "Application Processor Unit" name for the guts of their Fusion processors isn't as gimmicky as it sounds, because the Llano is genuinely unique: It's four processing cores and a DX11-capable GPU on a single processor die. In simpler terms, this means that AMD has created a tidy little system on a chip, aimed at a few portable markets. In the simplest terms, they've shrunk laptop graphics and processing into a single chip, which saves power and space.

So! Not much is known about the Llano right now, but we can pick out some broad themes. The chip's power regulation is novel, monitoring specific chip functions to gauge power draw rather than sensors. The graphics capabilities, though still generally a mystery, wouldn't have to be very good at all to trump Intel's lame integrated graphics. In other words, as Ars notes, this could be the first real baby of the still torrid AMD/ATI marriage, and the start of an ATI comeback, at least in laptops.

Or, given that we're not expected to see these processors in products until 2011, when everything could be completely different, it could be none of these things. [Ars Technica]