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Advanced Micro Devices has announced that it would bring forward the introduction of its code-named Ontario low-power low-cost chip that combines x86 processing units with graphics engine on the same piece of silicon. Unfortunately, speed up of the launch seem to have negatively affected qualities of the products: it is no longer aimed at slates or other innovative form-factors.

"We are excited about the opportunities Ontario offers. It’s a game changer that significantly expands our adressable market. Based on strong customer demand and an accelerated engineering cycle, we now expect Ontario to be the first Fusion APU we bring to market. We plan to ship Ontario APUs in the fourth quarter of this year [for revenue], ahead of schedule," said Derrick Meyer, chief executive officer of AMD, during the quarterly conference call with financial analysts.

The chip designer expects actual systems based on the code-named Ontario accelerated processing units (APUs) to become available early next year. Unfortunately, those devices will not be revolutionary technological masterpieces, but rather prosaic low-cost netbooks with improved performance of microprocessor as well as DirectX 11 graphics support. While at present there are no netbooks with such feature-set, it is not generally clear whether there is demand for advanced graphics on netbooks with small screens.

Even though earlier AMD have said a number of times that Fusion and Ontario would revolutionize the market of tablets or target new form-factors, it looks like the forthcoming code-named Brazos mobile platform will only aim netbooks or even low-end notebooks, not slates.

"We clearly have the capability to create products targeted to tablets, but that will not be where Ontario will be targeted. It will be more netbooks and up into the low-end of mainstream notebooks," stressed Mr. Meyer.

The reasons behind AMD's decision to no longer target rapidly developing market of tablet PC with Ontario APU and Brazos platform are unclear.

AMD code-named Ontario features two x86 cores based on Bobcat micro-architecture, integrated DirectX 11-class graphics core and DDR3 memory controller on a single-chip system-on-chip (SoC) device. As reported previously, the Bobcat micro-architecture features x86-64, virtualization, SSE, SSE2, SSE3 technologies and will be single-threaded with out-of-order execution. The actual Ontario microprocessor, which is a dual-core chip, will be able to offer 90% of today’s “mainstream performance” in less than half of die area. AMD claims that Bobcat-based products are sub-1W capable. The SoC will be made using a 40nm fabrication process at TSMC. AMD Ontario is the key part of AMD Brazos platform for low-power devices.

Tags: AMD, Fusion, Ontario, Brazos, 40nm,


Comments currently: 5
Discussion started: 07/17/10 06:30:55 AM
Latest comment: 07/21/10 10:06:05 AM


I have high hopes for this. I hope it gives me what I want: a decently fast CPU (considerably faster than an Atom) with graphics fast enough for some gaming (even if at low settings), all at a low weight / low battery life package which also doesn't cost much. A lot to live up to, but I hope AMD can deliver.
0 0 [Posted by: ET3D  | Date: 07/17/10 06:30:56 AM]

Well, based on everything AMD has said and we can extrapolate, I think you'll be satisfied, depending on weight of performance vs battery life.

First I'd look at the 65nm AMD Neo (and x2) versus atom. It's more-than-likely the core will be similar to this, based on the fact not only that this chip is aimed at ultra-portables, but that it too only supports through SSE3 instructions, just like Ontario.

Graphics wise, I would think it will use a updated dx11 version of the 40sp part that AMD has used for all their integrated motherboards for ages, but who knows.

Basically, imagine the GPU from current AMD chipsets combined into a first-gen X2 shrunk to 40nm. Neo has always killed Atom in performance; in single or dual core form. It performs, according to this benchmark below, quite a bit faster(in single core benches).

The problem is battery life. It's terrible because it is a full-size chip competing at lower clockspeeds; think <50% of an atom platform. With this part, I think we can expect similar performance but perhaps at roughly 75% battery life of Atom. In other words, a fair trade-off. With the CPU coming from 65nm, the GPU portion of the chipset from 55nm, and use of AMD's new throttling techniques, this could be a nice little 40nm chip. (single core neo benchmarks)
0 0 [Posted by: turtle  | Date: 07/17/10 11:36:27 AM]

If even Ontario hold 75 % battery life of Atom ,people forget Atom ,because Ontario have better GPU ,paralel procesing etc..So its not terrible situtation for Intel ,because Intel probaly cut price and I see in the future cheap netbook.
0 0 [Posted by: Blackcode  | Date: 07/19/10 02:42:20 PM]

"Unfortunately, those devices will not be revolutionary technological masterpieces, but rather prosaic low-cost netbooks with improved performance of microprocessor as well as DirectX 11 graphics support."

I think, it is still a "masterpiece" to produce a HDL synthesizable design (which actually means ~20% loss vs. a heavily tuned design), which could possibly perform like a 1.3-1.6 GHz Phenom II X2 in first benches (BOINC), is equipped with DX11 graphics and fits into a netbook! Performance is also ~2x that of Atom per core:

While these numbers are only based on 2 somewhat different benchmarks (Dhrystone for integer and Whetstone for floating point), they give at least an indication.
0 0 [Posted by: Dresdenboy  | Date: 07/21/10 06:29:01 AM]

ofc .... It should be considerably faster than Atom considering Bobcat is OOO core and Atom is in-order and two of this in Ontario APU at same speed should be at least 1.5x faster than dual core Atom at same speed. And best thing been capable running all that 10yrs old software without any limitations. It should be all around cpu just like athlons 64/ii

It'll be interesting to see how will it perform on bug prone 40nm bulk TSMC process. But then again most of 45nm Atoms are manufactured by TSMC so Ontario should be competitive in that segment.
0 0 [Posted by: OmegaHuman  | Date: 07/21/10 10:06:05 AM]


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