AMDs acquisition of ATI

By Scott Ferguson  |  Posted 2008-02-06 Print this article Print

The most obvious example of this is adding a GPU (graphics processing unit) to the processor package to help better render video and other multimedia applications. AMD has already announced that it plans to combine CPUs and GPUs on the same piece of silicon in 2009 under a program called Accelerated Processing Units, previously referred to as "Fusion."

AMD has another initiative called "Torrenza," which looks to spur the development of co-processors for systems that use AMD 's Opteron processors.

One reason why AMD acquired ATI in 2006 was to take advantage of the company's graphics portfolio as it moved toward this type of chip development. In this case, the GPU allows the software's instructional threads to run in parallel, breaking the information down into smaller pieces to process them simultaneously, which provides for high throughput and better performance for various applications without relying on increasing the clock speed to increase performance. The result of all this is what Moore calls a heterogeneous microprocessor that has a combination of GPUs and CPUs working together, which should increase performance while reducing power consumption. It also allows applications to take better advantage of the multicore platform.

"It is simply that hardware with a specific purpose is much more efficient," Moore said. "You wouldn't want to decode video on a CPU. You want to decode that video on a dedicated piece of hardware that is off to the side. At the same time, it achieves the same performance at one-twentieth the power."

AMD is moving toward offering these types of subsystems for its chips-GPUs are just one example-that are mostly geared for desktops. Moore said most data center servers run applications that can currently take advantage of multicore technology, such as Web services and financial processing. By 2009, AMD plans to offer its first platform that will support chips that have up to eight processing cores.

That's not to say that AMD is only focusing on chips for PCs. In November, the company introduced its FireStream 9170 GPU for the HPC (high-performance computer) market. In this case, it's focusing on the HPC market, where Nvidia, also a vendor of GPU technology, has taken an interest.


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