by Anton Shilov
10/15/2009 | 05:35 PM
The chief executive officer of Advanced Micro Devices said during a conversation with financial analysts that the first “Fusion” chips from AMD that will feature both general-purpose x86 processing cores as well as graphics processing cores will be made using 32nm silicon-on-insulator (SOI) process technology. While the decision is rather surprising, the news that AMD had made its mind in regards of fabrication process seems to be good.
“We will have CPUs, so-called Fusion parts, on 32nm SOI in the next-generation and the bulk CMOS [fabrication process] we are evaluating for subsequent generation. […] For the generations beyond 32nm, we are evaluating our choices, as we do for every generation,” said Dirk Meyer, chief executive officer of AMD, during a conference call with financial analysts.
At present AMD’s central processing units (CPUs) are made using SOI process technology at Globalfoundries, a joint venture between AMD and Advanced Technology Investment Company, whereas the company’s ATI Radeon graphics processing units (GPUs) are produced utilizing bulk technology at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. In order to fit a Radeon HD 5000-class graphics core into the same piece of silicon with a CPU, AMD will have to redesign the GPU.
According to AMD’s most recent roadmap, the first accelerated processing unit (APU, how the company prefers to call its CPU-GPU “Fusion” products) from the company is code-named Llano.
AMD Llano APU will seem to be quite an interesting solution for entry-level market: it will feature up to four Shanghai/Phenom II-class cores; 4MB of L3 cache; PC3-12800 (DDR3 1600MHz) memory controller, possibly, with some tweaks to better serve x86 and graphics engines; DirectX 11 graphics core with third-generation universal video decoder; PCI Express 2.0 bus for external graphics cards.
The decision about process technology for the first “Fusion” chip seems to be very positive for AMD, whose execution and decision making has been heavily criticized for several years now. Since Llano is only due in 2011, the company will have a lot of time to tweak the design of the chip so that to ensure smooth product launch. Obviously, it still remains to be seen whether the company’s Phenom II-class CPU will remain competitive in 2011 in terms of general processing capabilities. However, it is a good news that AMD is ready with the design and process technology for the forthcoming product.