AMD Unveils SoC Platform for Embedded Devices

The new Embedded G-Series SoCs integrate CPU, graphics and the I/O controller onto a single chip for such devices as smart TVs and digital signage.

Advanced Micro Devices is rolling out a new system-on-a-chip (SoC) platform aimed at embedded devices, one of several growth areas company officials are targeting as the chip vendor looks to reduce its dependency on the contracting PC market.

AMD's new Embedded G-Series SoCs, announced April 23 at the Design West 2013 expo in San Jose, Calif., are designed for such devices as set-top boxes, digital signage, kiosks and smart TVs, according to company officials. The platform offers both dual- and quad-core CPUs, and also comes with the company's Radeon graphics technology.

The SoCs bring a marked improvement in performance and energy efficiency over AMD's G-Series accelerated processing unit (APU) predecessors, and they challenge Intel's low-power Atom platform, according to Craig Bryant, product marketing manager for AMD.

"Built upon the success of the AMD G-Series APU family, we have now a fully integrated processor with CPU, GPU and I/O controller on the same chip," Bryant wrote in an April 22 post on AMD's blog. "Customer feedback continues to emphasize the need for lower-power embedded processors that provide exceptional performance at aggressive price points, and we have taken that input to heart and created a product with not only exceptional performance but also superior performance-per-watt in the low-power x86 microprocessor class of products when running multiple industry standard benchmarks."

According to AMD, the new Embedded G-Series SoCs offer a 113 percent improvement in CPU performance over the company's G-Series APU and a 125 percent advantage over Intel's Atom chips. The new SoCs also bring a 20 percent improvement over the G-Series APU and a 430 percent improvement over Atom in parallel processing and high-performance graphics.

"With a 33 percent smaller footprint, low power consumption and exceptional performance, the new AMD Embedded G-Series SOC sets the bar for content-rich multimedia and traditional workload processing that is ideal for a broad variety of embedded applications," Arun Iyengar, vice president and general manager of embedded solutions at AMD, said in a statement.

The embedded device space will play an increasingly important role in AMD's overall portfolio, AMD CEO Rory Read said April 18 during a conference call with analysts and journalists to talk about the company's first-quarter financial numbers. By the end of 2013, embedded and semi-custom chips (for such devices as game consoles) will account for 20 percent of AMD's revenues, and that will grow to 40 to 50 percent over the next two to three years, Read said.

He expects the embedded device market to hit $7 billion by 2016. Such devices are looking for single chips that hold everything from CPUs to GPUs to the I/O controller, and that are high performing, low cost and highly energy-efficient.

The new SoCs will run Microsoft's Windows Embedded 8 and Linux.

The Embedded G-Series chips are based on AMD's Jaguar CPU architecture. The SoCs offer up to four Jaguar cores, as well as Radeon high-definition embedded graphics, and with thermal design profiles (TDPs) that range from 9 watts to 25 watts, they very energy-efficient. The Jaguar architecture is also used in AMD's semi-custom chips that are used in such systems as Sony's PlayStation 4 game console.

The SoCs support OpenCL, which enables general-purpose GPU processing, and DirectX 11 and OpenGL graphics. In addition, the platform offers graphics APIs for greater expanded software development options, according to AMD officials.

The platform includes five models that range in price from $49 to $72 per 1,000 shipped, and will be available in the second quarter.