by Anton Shilov
01/17/2011 | 04:37 PM
Initially believed to be an installation of a central processing unit and a graphics processing unit onto the same piece of silicon, the Fusion project of Advanced Micro Devices has grown into something bigger. The new chips that combine x86 cores as well as highly-parallel Radeon graphics engines can use different hardware to offer the best possible experience to the end-user. The only problem is to find appropriate software. Looks like AMD has found a solution.
Despite of the fact that highly-parallel DirectCompute- and OpenCL-compliant graphics processors (such as ATI Radeon or Nvidia GeForce) can provide exceptional performance improvements in numerous types of applications (which can take advantage of massive parallelism) over conventional central processing units (CPUs), far not all end-users actually utilize them. The main reason for such situation is relatively small share of general-purpose programs (which are not video games) that can take advantage of general-purpose processing on GPU (GPGPU). As a result, an important task for both AMD and Nvidia is to show end-users those programs and convince customers to acquire them.
With the launch of Fusion accelerated processing units (APUs) - which feature x86 cores and Radeon HD 6000-series engines on the same die - it becomes crucial for AMD to make users utilize the right hardware for ever task. The best way to promote AMD Fusion-optimized is to open a special app store and advertize it on systems powered by the APUs. But that is not a part of AMD's plan.
"We are not necessarily interested in creating a commerce back-end and [establishing] our own app store. What we are interested in doing is helping the consumers to find software optimized for our platforms. So, there is a way for us to do this that looks a little different than, say, iTunes app store," said John Taylor, director of client product and software marketing at AMD.
At present AMD advertizes GPGPU-enabled programs on its own web-site, which is hardly an efficient way of advertizing; AMD also informs end-users of GPGPU-enabled programs using Catalyst Control Center; it in addition, the company is working with its hardware partners among computer makers who are planning to launch their own online application stores to ensure that users of Fusion systems are properly advised to get GPGPU-enabled apps. Moreover, a new version of Catalyst Control Center will also be able to direct end-users to software that takes advantage of Fusion. In addition, the company is working on a generally better way of informing end-users about apps that utilize unique capabilities of Fusion chips. AMD remains tight-lipped whether this way would be a kind of app store within the CCC or something else.
"We are building a different version of Catalyst Control Center for Fusion systems. We will absolutely show applications within Catalyst that are optimized for Fusion. As far as our app store strategy will be, we are still developing that as we are building a larger catalogue of software. [Currently there are] 15 to 20 applications optimized for Fusion and that number will grow because our OpenCL SDK matures, we begin to sample Llano APUs to ISVs; [as a result] we [eventually] will need to think of more evolved app store strategy than a Web repository of a content," said Mr. Taylor.