AMD Fusion APU Zacate Preview Planned Next Week

AMD is to preview its Fusion APU, codenamed Zacate, in San Francisco, while rival Intel plans an unveiling of its Sandy Bridge chip.

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices announced next week in San Francisco the company would unveil the first North America public demonstrations of its Fusion Accelerated Processing Unit, known as Zacate. The APU is a dual-core, 18-watt TDP processor containing discrete-level graphics capabilities on die. AMD said the processor is designed to "dramatically improve" the user's PC experience by offering full HD streaming online video, a DirectX 11-compliant platform and accelerated Internet browsing capability.

The demonstrations will run from Monday, Sept. 13 through Wednesday, Sept. 15. The accelerated Internet browsing demonstration will show how Zacate-based platforms support the future of GPU-enabled Web browsing today and how these platforms perform side-by-side against currently available AMD- and Intel processor-based notebooks. Senior executives and engineers responsible for AMD Fusion APUs will be on hand for the event, the release stated.

"Targeting value and mainstream notebooks and desktops, 'Zacate' APU-based platforms bring many of the vivid digital computing experiences once reserved for high-end PCs into the opening price points of the mainstream segment," a company release stated. The company recently blogged about the processor during Berlin's IFA 2010 consumer electronics show. The dual low-power CPU cores, codenamed Bobcat, provide mainstream CPU performance in less than one-half the die area and a fraction of the power, according to director of Fusion marketing John Taylor.

He wrote the APU itself would come in two flavors based on performance and low power draw: Zacate, about the size of a one-euro coin, designed for ultrathin, mainstream, and value notebooks as well as desktops and all-in-ones and a 9-watt APU codenamed Ontario for netbooks and small form factor desktops and devices. "Both low-power APU versions feature two Bobcat x86 cores and fully support DirectX11, DirectCompute ( the Microsoft programming interface for GPU computing) and OpenCL (cross-platform programming interface standard for multicore x86 and accelerated GPU computing)," Taylor wrote. "Both also include UVD dedicated hardware acceleration for HD video including 1080p resolutions."

Intel CEO Paul Otellini is opening up a new battle in the never-ending war between the two companies by holding a rival demonstration, also in San Francisco, at the company's Intel Developer Forum. The chip, Intel's first to offers graphics capabilities built into the processor, is codenamed Sandy Bridge. "Increasingly the single-chip device for all these gadgets and widgets and cars and TVs is where the volume is going to be," Otellini said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

AMD also unveiled the newest member of its ATI FirePro family, the FirePro V9800, featuring support for up to six monitors. With an estimated retail price of $3,499, the V9800 offers six Mini DisplayPort outputs, built using ATI's Eyefinity technology and providing desktop resolution of up to 5760 x 2160, 4GB of GDDR5 memory and a 1.25x increased compute stream processor performance and an increase of 2.27x in single- and double-precision performance, according to a company release.

Powered by 1,600 stream processors, V9800 offers support for stereo 3D capability, supporting active shutter glasses via the on-board 3-pin connector, as well as passive and auto-stereoscopic displays and projectors. Additionally, AMD said with support for the FirePro S400 synchronization module, up to four V9800 graphics cards could be synchronized (genlock, framelock), delivering up to 24 synchronized outputs from a single computer.

The senior manager of 3D and PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) applications 3D and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) applications specialist at Dassault Syst???mes, Jerome Maillot, called the ability to drive six display outputs simultaneously and achieve such a large image on a very high resolution display a great step forward for engineering collaboration. "Sharing a 3D model at full scale and achieving a significant cost reduction at the same time sounds like a dream, yet it is a reality," Maillot said. "It is clear the FirePro V9800 professional graphics card has delivered the high level of technology our company has come to expect."