AMD Releases SDK for Its 'Llano' Fusion Chips
Advanced Micro Devices is rolling out a software development kit for its Fusion processors, giving developers access to its new chips that integrate high-level graphics and the CPU on the same piece of silicon.
AMD's APP (Accelerated Parallel Processing) SDK v 2.5, released Aug. 8, enables developers to leverage the technology found in the chip maker's A-Series Fusion APU chips-formerly code-named "Llano"-which were released in June. AMD officials have dubbed the Fusion chips that offer the integrated GPU and CPU as APUs, or accelerated processing units.
The vendor released the first of the Fusion chips at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in January. The Llano chips are aimed at mainstream desktops and notebooks. The earlier Fusion chips focused more on lightweight notebooks and the embedded market. AMD officials say the A-Series APUs offer high-end HD graphics, supercomputer-like performance and the company's All-Day battery-life capabilities.
With the SDK, AMD is hoping developers embrace the new Fusion technology and the cross-platform OpenCL programming language, which is designed to enable programmers to write an application once, and have it work on a number of different computing devices. The more developers write to OpenCL, the wider the adoption of AMD technology, according to company officials.
"Improving performance and programmability on AMD platforms is a key initiative for us, and we work closely with developers to help us make the APU the best possible development platform," Manju Hegde, corporate vice president of AMD's Fusion Experience Program, said in a statement. "With these latest SDK refinements, we are supporting continued growth of the ecosystem and building on the momentum generated by the successful AMD Fusion Developer Summit held in June."
AMD launched its Fusion chips at CES at the same time Intel launched its Core processors with the "Sandy Bridge" micro-architecture, which also features graphics integrated with the CPU. The aim of these GPU-CPU chips is to increase performance while also ramping up energy efficiency. During separate conference calls with analysts and journalists last month to discuss their respective second-quarter financial numbers, executives with both AMD and Intel said the ramp ups of their new chips were among the best in their companies' histories.
Since the beginning of the year, AMD has sold 9 million of its "Brazos" processors, which are designed for lightweight notebooks and netbooks. The ramp for the Llano APUs is unfolding even faster, according to AMD CFO and interim CEO Thomas Seifert.
"The success of the APUs demonstrates that we have the right strategy," Seifert said.
According to AMD officials, the updated APP SDK v2.5 offers a key performance enhancement related to greater bandwidth between the CPU and GPU. With the A-Series APU, the data-transfer rates are as high as 15GB per second. Other enhancements focus on gestural interfaces, multi-monitor support, 3D entertainment and real-time image stabilization, according to AMD.