Soon after AMD officially announced the purchase of graphics chip maker ATI Technologies, the computer processor manufacturer revealed its plans to develop a fusion chip that would combine an x86 processing core and a graphics core, to provide the end-user with an alternative solution to a low-power computer system. Codenamed Llano, AMD's first Fusion chip, also known as an APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) is expected to become available sometime in 2011. According to the latest details coming from the Sunnyvale, California-based company, AMD is content with the current development of its Llano chip.
In a recent news-article on xbitlabs, Chekib Akrout, corporate vice president of central engineering at AMD says that “[we] are quite happy with what we are seeing so far and believe that ‘Llano’ is really going to demonstrate the power of AMD’s two strengths: x86 CPUs and GPUs.” He continues by saying that, due to the fact that they “are using an existing CPU core for the first product and not making big changes in the memory structure right away, we feel quite confident about where we are with Llano.”
The details on AMD's upcoming Llano have been scarce, but a summary would indicate that AMD's first APU will be mainly focused on the entry-level market and will boast a Shanghai/Phenom II-class processor core, combined with 4MB of L3 cache, a possible DDR3 memory controller, support for DirectX 11, third-gen universal video decoder, PCI Express 2.0 and the use of 32nm technology. There's also a possibility that AMD will launch the first APU designed using 28nm manufacturing technology, as the Globalfoundries is expected to have access to 28nm bulk fabrication process in 2010.
We are certainly far from the official release of AMD's first attempt at a Fusion chip, but the company appears to be on the right track. The Llano APU will provide the industry with a choice to build more cost and energy-efficient computer systems that combine both processing and graphics power inside a single chip solution.