AMD Speeds Up Introduction of "Ontario" Chip for Netbooks

AMD Changes Positioning of Ontario: No Longer Aims at Slates

by Anton Shilov
07/16/2010 | 10:14 PM

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.