AMD Fusion: GPU and CPU Hook Up for Better Battery Life

We've known AMD's Fusion GPU/CPU hybrid has been incoming, but now we know exactly what to expect from the tiny chips—clean(er) video, low energy, and the size of a fingernail.

The Fusion family of chips will (attempt to) do away with the messy guts spread across your motherboard, jamming a northbridge, multi-core CPU, and DirectX 11 GPU onto a single die—an APU, or Accelerated Processing Unit.

The Fusion line's split into three models—the C-Series, targeted at netbooks, ultraportables, and (gasp!) tablets; the E-Series, made with low-power notebooks and all-in-one desktops in mind, and the quad core CPU, performance-heavy A-Series, for beefier desktop and notebook use.

Video performance should be another top perk of the little APUs, with hardware acceleration onboard for cleaner and smoother HD video processing. AMD is clearly looking to the personal and web-based video world, and seeing a lot of messy pixels it thinks it can polish. The lower-powered E and C series look like they'll deliver, squeezing out 35 and 92 percent better HTML5 video performance, respectively, against comparable mobile offerings from Intel. Gaming performance should also see a significant boost from what AMD claims is discrete-caliber graphics packed in, though with only 3DMark '06 stats waved around so far, we'll have to wait for real world performance.

AMD's claiming a minimum 8 hour (idle) battery life across the line, with the C-Series advertised as high as 12. As usual, expect lower than these claims, but energy efficiency is definitely to be expected with the newly compacted architecture.

We're eager to see what OEMs do with the line—though companies like Lenovo and HP are already embracing Fusion among their netbooks. Small spaces usually mean awful, underpowered components that are a pain to use, but pressing good parts together (for a change) could make the devices they power impressively less miserable.

AMD's next-gen mobile graphics line, the Radeon 6000M Series, is also out of the bag. The DirectX 11 GPUs will span performance becoming of ultraportables (while still besting than crummy integrated graphics) all the way to battery-busting gaming notebooks. Like the Fusion line, the 6000Ms will be heavy on media performance, emphasizing HD processing, as well as support for GPU-accelerated software like Photoshop and IE9. And, of course, it wouldn't be 2011 without 3D fanfare, which AMD is pushing with included support for stereoscopic glasses.

SUNNYVALE, Calif. - Embargo until Jan. 4, 2011 - AMD today announced broad support for the AMD Fusion Family of Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) from the software and hardware ecosystem community. Working closely with software vendors, developers and motherboard suppliers, AMD has built a coalition of industry innovators committed to providing devices and applications that leverage the combined x86 computing power and discrete-level graphics performance of AMD Fusion APUs.

"AMD and its partners are leading the way to a new era of computing distinguished by immersive entertainment, outstanding Internet browsing and fast, efficient processing of digital workloads," said John Taylor, director, AMD Client and Software Product Marketing. "The creation of a robust x86- and GPU computing-based ecosystem to enable these next-generation experiences is the culmination of long-standing collaboration with developers, software and tools vendors, and component suppliers, as well as technology investments made possible by the AMD Fusion Fund."

Next-Generation Applications

To access the uniquely powerful and efficient capabilities of the APU architecture, AMD collaborates with a variety of middleware and tools providers to offer software development kits that facilitate the use of industry-standard application programming interfaces (APIs) such as OpenCL™, OpenGL™, Direct2D and DirectCompute. AMD further supports the optimization of software for AMD Fusion APUs with AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP) technology, which helps developers more easily tap into the combined power of the GPU and CPU to accelerate existing applications and create new possibilities in software.

Dozens of innovative companies will be demonstrating amazing computing experiences enabled by AMD technology including AMD Fusion APUs at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week in the Wired showcase sponsored by AMD (Grand Lobby, GL8), as well as in the AMD Technology Showcase. A variety of applications that span multimedia, gaming, productivity, web browsing, facial recognition, video conferencing and more will be on display from leading software suppliers, including:

Adobe

ArcSoft

Codemasters

Corel

CyberLink

DivX

EA / BioWare

Firaxis

Gazillion

Microsoft

Nuvixa

Earthsim

Roxio

Sega

Turbine

Viewdle

Vivu

AMD motherboard partners are also innovating around the launch of the first AMD Fusion APUs, as leading original design manufacturers (ODMs), including ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI and Sapphire, have announced integrated APU/motherboard products for the first PC platforms featuring AMD Fusion APUs.