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Advanced Micro Devices said at its event for financial analysts that it would ensure performance leadership of its graphics processing units (GPUs) as the technology is critical for the company's further growth. But at the same time, the company is slowing down the progress of its high-performance x86 processors for enthusiast-class desktops as well as servers.

"Graphics technology ends up being the central piece of our entire roadmap. Graphics is a basic building block in terms of parallel processing capability that allows us to accelerate many-many applications. [...] This is really a secret sauce that goes into our APU line," said Lisa Su, general manager of global business units at AMD.

Graphics Performance Is the Key

Since highly-parallel graphics processing units can accelerate different types of workloads dramatically, it is crucial for AMD to ensure development of the best graphics architecture possible so that its accelerated processing units (APUs) could provide better overall user experience than Intel Corp.'s microprocessors. AMD calls processing on different types of cores as heterogeneous system architecture (HSA) and is working hard to improve efficiency of this architecture.

At present AMD has the highest-performing Radeon HD 7900-series "Tahiti" discrete graphics adapters as well as highest-performing integrated graphics adapters with Fusion A-series "Llano" APUs. Right now there around 200 apps that can be accelerated by stream processing units of GPUs, but several years from now that number will increase and the compute performance of GPU cores will be critical for success on the mass market.

"End-to-end leadership in discrete graphics is something that we are very committed to and something we will continue to drive forward as this is a key market and a key way for us to leverage our IP," stressed Ms. Su.

Boosting efficiency of heterogeneous computing in general as well as heterogeneous multi-core "Fusion" chips is one of the main tasks for AMD nowadays. As a result, the company's next-generation discrete Radeon HD "Sea Islands" family of chips as well as future-generations of APUs code-named Kaveri and Kabini will feature numerous HSA-related enhancements in addition to better-performing graphics. In particular, "Southern Islands" graphics processor of Kaveri will be able to access to CPU memory, whereas a combination of a Sea Island graphics processor with an appropriate microprocessor will allow CPU and GPU to have unified memory.

High-End CPUs Stagnate

But while AMD is quickly improving performance and efficiency of APUs and GPUs, its high-end central processing units seem to stagnate. The AMD FX-series "Zambezi" processor failed to impress and it will look even more pale once Intel releases its Core i-series "Ivy Bridge" chips this spring.

AMD will launch its next-gen FX-series chip code-named Vishera with Piledriver x86 cores (that will increase instructions per clock count and thus will be faster than existing ones) sometimes in the second half of the year, some project November-December timeframe. But unfortunately for AMD, it will have to sell those chips throughout the whole 2013 and compete against Intel's code-named Ivy Bridge-E and Haswell offerings as next year the company does not plan to refresh its high-end lineup at all. Similar situation occurs with AMD's server lineup: in 2013 the company currently has no plans to introduce new server processors.

Without tangible improvements of "discrete" central processing units, AMD has to count only on performance advantages brought by its graphics processors whether in standalone or integrated variations.

Tags: AMD, Radeon, ATI, Sourthern Islands, Sea Islands, Piledriver, Steamroller

Discussion

Comments currently: 19
Discussion started: 02/03/12 04:09:08 AM
Latest comment: 02/10/12 09:43:39 PM
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1. 
Yeah, that is what you need to do to survive! You've already run down the CPU business into the dust!
3 1 [Posted by: psycho_mccrazy  | Date: 02/03/12 04:09:08 AM]
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2. 
In my opinion, this is more about pulling the wool over the financial analysts' eyes than anything else. While it is true that GPUs do offer a superior parallel instruction set for *specific* uses such as gaming and advanced mathematics, the x86 CPU isn't going anywhere anytime soon. This is more about trying to make a plan around an excuse. I hope they do fool the analysts, as without AMD the entire PC market would be totally different and we'd all be paying a lot higher prices for a lot less performance.
2 1 [Posted by: jcollake  | Date: 02/03/12 04:30:10 AM]
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3. 
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3 8 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 02/03/12 06:54:35 AM]
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- collapse thread

 
There already are 2 forms of "high end" AMD desktop CPU options, llano and bulldozer.

AMD's growth is where it is competitive, certain servers and low price netbooks/ notebooks. And theyre doing a rather good job of serving the needs of those 2 segments.

Why can you not admit that they are not competive on desktop CPU's beyond the value segment. They've made it pretty clear they are only going to get minor improvements for the next few years from bulldozer, and are even now telling financial analysts that they are focusing on the gpu section.
0 1 [Posted by: cashkennedy  | Date: 02/03/12 04:03:01 PM]
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You seem confused...

AMD currently only offers one high-end desktop option which is the FX series CPUs. The A-series Llano desktop APUs are entry-level products, not high-end.

As blind tests have shown, AMD competes just fine on the desktop when consumers judge a PC based on actual performance not CPU specs or benchmarks.

http://www.overclock.net/...blind-test-at-recent-show

As far as GPUs, AMD is always focusing on GPUs and IGP as it's a natural for APUs to fill all mainstream consumer segments.

AMD's Llano APU has been so succesful they are even being used in Servers - and they were never designed or intended to be used in Servers. That's pretty cool and a good deal for AMD.

Did I mention AMD has sold over 30 MILLION APUS? That's even more than 20 MILLION or 12 MILLION APUs.
3 4 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 02/03/12 06:52:43 PM]
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What is the breakdown of the Brazos apu's vs Llano APU's that AMD has sold.

I didnt say AMD was having trouble staying affloat or selling processors. I just said they arent competitive in the high end desktop area. I would say that over half of the APU's they sold were for Brazos, and not for LLano.

How is Llano not a "high end" dekstop part, when it generally outperforms equivalent bulldozer 6 core units? Bulldozer/FX isnt really high end, because it is worse then their 6 core k10 products.
0 1 [Posted by: cashkennedy  | Date: 02/04/12 02:13:09 PM]
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AMD sold ~20 M non-Llano APUs in 2011 and ~10 M Llano APUs.

Current desktop Llano CPUs are "entry level" by AMD's own admission. The Phenom II / FX CPUs are far better and faster with a discrete GPU than Llano desktop CPUs.

Eventually AMD will offer high-end, mid-range and entry level desktop APUs and most mainstream consumers will use these in Desktops as well as in laptop. Thats a few years off yet.
2 1 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 02/08/12 11:27:27 AM]
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4. 
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2 6 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 02/03/12 06:45:10 PM]
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