AMD talks up its first Fusion chip, the Llano APU

By on February 9, 2010, 1:00 PM
AMD has been talking up its Fusion microprocessor plans for quite some time, ever since it acquired ATI for $5.4 billion in 2006, but for the most part the company has abstained from discussing its upcoming GPU/CPU hybrid in detail. Having missed its original May 2009 launch timeframe, and with Intel's Westmere CPUs featuring built-in graphics already out, it seems AMD is now ready to share a little more.

Speaking at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco this week, AMD's Sam Naffziger said the upcoming 'Llano' Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) will see the joining of its first 32nm Phenom II quad core CPU with a DirectX 11 capable GPU on the same die. This is a much more sophisticated approach than Intel's at present, which simply adds a separate 45nm GPU to the processor package.

Naffziger didn't reveal specific speeds of the graphics unit, but he said it will be a derivative of the current Radeon HD 5000 series and that it will not link to the cores through a HyperTransport link. Instead, it will use a more direct link on the die. Llano's CPU clock speeds are expected to surpass the 3GHz threshold and AMD is aiming for power consumption in the 2.5W to 25W range per core -- with the ability to shut down unused cores.

The chip will also integrate a DDR3 memory controller, 512KB L1 and 1MB L2 Cache per core. There's no shared L3 cache though. In any case, Llano is looking quite promising for the mobile sector, but with a launch scheduled for 'sometime in 2011' Intel's current platform will have a significant head start. If both companies stay on track, Llano should go up against Intel's next major architecture shift, dubbed Sandy Bridge, which will also have graphics on-die but is only expected to support DirectX 10.

User Comments: 8

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Regenweald said:

Sounds great on paper, hope it delivers some design wins for AMD/ATI, they *really* need to accelerate product delivery somehow, Intel keeps getting to market first.

Flannelwarrior said:

Does someone mind explaining to me what the practical applications of this innovation will be? Would it eliminate the need for a separate graphics chip on the motherboard or dedicated graphics card? And would it outperform the current standard in onboard graphics?

Would this be used in lowend desktops? Or is it for netbooks / phones / tablets etc?

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Notebook and smaller part.

Where's the GPU ? has it been cropped out of the picture ?

Guest said:

Think you might have an error there... Is it supposed to be 256k L1 cache per core?

Guest said:

Forget it... 512k L1 total 128x4 cores. Got it.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Intel has no way to compete with AMD graphics, in tech speaks of course they might both have the same idea of technology but Intel's integrated video chipsets are like 10 steps behind AMD's.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Kibaruk, from what I've read of Intel's latest integrated graphics, they're just one or two steps behind AMD. There's a chance that by the time Fusion CPU's come out, Intel will have something reasonably competitive for low end gaming.

peas said:

Intel's integrated graphics are among the most pathetic in the industry. Not "one or two steps behind", they're generations behind and will never catch up unless Intel really commits to state of the art graphics. No sign of that, just more hand waving from Intel.

flannelwarrior - this reduces system cost (fewer chips, less complex board layout), lower power, and potentially higher performance per watt. Don't confuse the last part with absolute performance. This type of integrated product will never be able to match discrete graphics. But compared to Intel garbage running at the same power dissipation, it'll blow that out of the water.

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