Is AMD's answer to Core and Core 2 finally here? Today, during the “Financial Analyst Day Presentation”, AMD unloaded a veritable horde of information on the community, showing details about many up and coming projects. The most exciting of which is an overhaul in the way AMD is looking at CPU design, which is dramatically different from the direction Intel is heading. While Intel is focusing on adding more cores to existing dies, creating a more powerful parallel processor, AMD is looking at taking multiple cores, but also relying on dedicated “xPU”'s of various types. By putting these “Accelerated Processing Units”, which could be anything from video accelerators to encryption accelerators, onto a single die, they are looking to avoid a core-war and instead focus on specialization:
Fusion, AMD's integrated CPU and graphics processor, is AMD's first step in that direction. However, the company eventually intends add more specialized cores that can handle tasks other than general-purpose computing and graphics. AMD didn't give any specific examples, but one could easily imagine future Fusion-like chips with cores for physics processing, audio/video encoding, and heck, maybe even AI acceleration.
While things like physics acceleration are only beginning to see adoption, the idea of a dedicated CPU for a particular task is nothing new. In the past, companies have attempted to put nearly all ICs into a single die, creating so called “Systems on a Chip”. AMD's direction is similar, though they appear to have much more focus, targeting areas that are most important to today's desktop and workstation users, by tailoring specific processors to specific markets. A gaming processor, an office processor, a CAD processor... it could be done.
AMD also announced many other plans for the near future, such as the development of HT 3.0, the introduction of quad core processors, DirectX 10 native integrated graphics cores, PCI Ex 2.0 and much more.
They are expecting true quad-core CPUs to be available mid 2007. Other improvements were also cited, such as a redesigned mobile core that will reduce power consumption and specifically intended to be paired with systems that have hybrid hard drives. The article is definitely worth reading, and many of the things AMD has put on their roadmap are looking really good.