Hardware Plans: APUs for Everyone!
X-bit labs: What prospects do you see for GPGPU in general against CPUs on different markets? For example in case of Llano and Zacate/Ontario chips you definitely made accent onto stream processing. But what about next-gen desktop and server chips? Will you make a similar accent.
Neal Robison: The short answer is yes, absolutely. We see that the Fusion architecture, which is more than just GPGPU, certainly lands itself into pretty interesting performance scaling curve. As you pointed out, Llano and Ontario can definitely scale above and beyond next-generation desktops and servers and it is definitely something we are planning to do eventually. We have announced that intention at various financial briefings to show that the architecture is strong enough and powerful enough to power desktop machines. We certainly can scale it even further to power higher-end desktops with the addition of some discrete GPUs to make sure it has enough horsepower to make sure that it has enough power for every kind of graphics workload that might be thrown at it.
x86 Coming to Tablets, Smartphones
X-bit labs: How do you think you can address emerging low-power markets with current offerings in general? Intel integrates baseband capabilities into its SoCs, Nvidia uses ARM and believes it exceptional performance will help it to gain the market. Is there place for AMD in the smartphones?
Neal Robison: As you might remember, ATI Technologies actually went down this road, so the technology/skills to create system-on-chip devices is present. With our Fusion architecture, I see no problems addressing low-power markets, starting with the tablet strategy. I can see in the future, if the smartphones make a lot of sense from our business point of view, whether it is margins, or availability, that is something the architecture could certainly scale to.
X-bit labs: Do you believe that x86 is a good solution for smartphones?
Neal Robison: I think there is a definite place for it. Obviously, you have to make some concessions, but I think it is far easier to take x86 and be able to scale that down with a good graphics core that it would be somebody in the ARM camp to try and scale up by adding graphics. We do know that GPUs are very difficult to create and have performance necessary to run the most demanding programs today.
X-bit labs: At present there are no mobile applications that rely on x86. Maybe you should create some software development tools targeted specifically at that market?
Neal Robison: For low-power devices tools are going to be a critical part of that strategy, something that we [will have to] look at. But right now there is such a wealth of tools that are available for x86... Those are compilers or just "general" industry knowledge that I think will definitely help any ultra low-power device in terms of software development.