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Advanced Micro Devices plans to finally launch its hybrid chips – which feature x86 central processing along with graphics processing cores – code-named Fusion in early 2011, however, according to a vice president of AMD, the second iteration of Fusion processors will not only be heterogeneous in terms of different cores within one piece of silicon, but the cores themselves will process both graphics and general-purpose data.

“The first iteration of Fusion will include a CPU and GPU, but by 2015 the model could change. In the second iteration [in] 2015, you are not going to be able to tell the difference. It's all going away," said Leslie Sobon, vice president of marketing at AMD, reports IDG News agency.

The Fusion concept was born back in 2006, when AMD acquired ATI Technologies, a leading supplier of graphics and multimedia chips. The company began talking about actual plans to integrate central processing unit (CPUs) with graphics processing unit (GPU) initially after the transaction and initially aimed 2008 – 2009 timeframe for Fusion chips. However, for a number of times AMD had to delay the actual products. Nevertheless, in 2011 the world’s second largest designer of microprocessors intends to launch two models of CPU-GPU chips: Llano, which is based on AMD Phenom II and ATI Radeon HD 5000 graphics cores, as well as Ontario, which is powered by Bobcat micro-architecture x86 cores as well as DirectX 11 graphics cores.

Quite interestingly, after AMD acquired ATI, the CPU designer said that eventually special purpose graphics processors would not be needed and would become obsolete, just like discrete math-coprocessors (or floating point units [FPUs]) did back in the late eighties and early nineties. Although AMD is successfully developing and selling its ATI Radeon graphics family and the first Fusion chips will have separate GPU core within one piece of silicon, it looks like the company still has plans to unify CPU and GPU cores going forward.

Nevertheless, AMD admits that many relatively simplistic GPU cores can process certain types of data faster than traditional x86 CPU cores, which is why modern graphics processors can improve user experience not only in video games.

"The GPU is perfect for antivirus. It's a perfect parallel-processed application. In the Fusion-based time frame that's where it needs to go," Ms. Sobon is reported to have said.

Tags: AMD, ATI, Fusion, Llano, Ontario, x86, Phenom, Radeon

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