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Strategy: The Future Is Fusion

The Place for Fusion

X-bit labs: We. How will you position Ontario and Zacate against Mobile Phenom II or Turion-series processors?

Fusion APUs are the future of AMD. We will phase them - Ontario, Zacate and Llano - into the product mix over 2011 and transition out products they replace.

X-bit labs: Will you continue to use Fusion brand for Ontario and Zacate when they enter the market, or do you plan a separate brand name?

Godfrey Cheng: Ontario and Zacate will come to market under the "AMD Vision Technology" brand.

After the massive success of Intel Atom, the industry observers started to talk about cannibalization of notebooks by netbooks. When Apple iPad tablet hit the market, many began to observe cannibalization of netbooks by slates. Interestingly, but the first breed of AMD Fusion accelerated processing units will be able to compete against entry-level desktop and mobile chips, whereas the second breed Llano offerings may be even even able to fight against the most affordable discrete graphics cards.

X-bit labs: Do you think that APUs represent a threat to inexpensive discrete GPUs?

Godfrey Cheng: Absolutely not. We have always offered excellent graphics solutions. [By contrast], no matter where you go, the slowest graphics is always "blue". Even with what we have heard of Sandy Bridge, that does not change much. If you look at where Llano is going to be versus Sandy Bridge, we believe that we are going to be quite a bit faster still. And even though we are quite a bit faster, consumers want more! As a result, we are going to deliver faster and better discrete GPUs all the time.

Despite the raised lowest common denominator, which is the APU, higher-performance discrete GPUs will offer enough extra performance that we think the market will consume. So, is APU a threat? No, not for us.

X-bit labs: By releasing the Ontario and Zacate chips, you are blurring the borders between netbooks and notebooks. Aren't you afraid that those APUs will kill sales of notebook platforms? Will you impose any requirements for Ontario/Zacate APUs-based computers (e.g., small monitor, etc)?

Godfrey Cheng: Fusion is raising the processing and experience bar at all levels.  Ontario and Zacate will deliver great experiences and raise the bar at prices points occupied by function limited netbooks and low-end notebooks today. Llano will deliver even more performance and better experiences beyond Zacate and Ontario-based products. AMD will not create any artificial barriers for our customers and encourages them to innovate with our Fusion APUs.

Functionality - Trigger of Revolution

X-bit labs: Can you name three key benefits that Brazos platform has against currently available inexpensive platforms for netbooks and low-cost notebooks?

Godfrey Cheng: Brazos has excellently balanced performance on x86, graphics and parallel compute. If you look at typical Atom platform today, it basically has out-of-date in-order x86 core [as well as low-end graphics adapter].

We have out-of-order x86 core. We have DirectX 11 graphics engine with UVD 3.0 video decoder. We have GPGPU with DirectCompute and OpenCL support. Our 9W/18W solution provide performance and feature-set comparable to competitor's 35W solutions...

Those are the obvious benefits of Brazos over existing Atom platforms.

X-bit labs: Will Ontario and Zacate enable lower-cost systems? At present the gap between netbooks and notebooks is shrinking as netbooks are getting more expensive. Perhaps, Ontario or Zacate-based machine will cost less than those?

Godfrey Cheng: Our goal is not to lower the cost of systems because that would be counter-productive to our corporate goals. That is really not that interesting to the consumer either. Our goal is to provide more functionality at certain price-point(s). The new AMD mobile platforms will deliver more than we delivered last time.

X-bit labs: What are the starting prices of mobile computers based on Zacate and Ontario chips?

Godfrey Cheng: We believe we should see notebooks in around the $349 range.

X-bit labs: Those low-cost systems are not designed for demanding applications and nobody actually launched them on netbooks. Do you expect Fusion to change usage models of PCs?

Godfrey Cheng: The level of expectations set by Atom netbooks is so low that Zacate-based machines with all their benefits will redefine what a $349 notebook should be. We absolutely intend to revolutionize the value at those price-points.

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