For image processing-intensive applications, balancing performance with efficiency has always been a challenge. That balancing act is about to become considerably easier: AMD, leveraging its merger with GPU manufacturer ATI, is releasing its Fusion family of Accelerated Processing Units, or APUs. These APUs subvert the traditional tradeoffs between GPUs and CPUs by combining the two processors on a single chip. This allows the APU to handle media-centric data processing with heterogeneous multi-core processor architecture, bypassing the typical limitations found in discreet processor units.
AMD is releasing the Fusion to the mobile and embedded market as the Brazos platform, and it comes in two flavors: the ultra-low power 1.2Ghz single-core and 1.0Ghz dual-core C-series (formerly Ontario) processors intended for netbooks, which require only 9 watts of power, and the E-series (formerly Zacate) processors, which offer higher CPU and GPU clock speeds while maintaining a TDP of only 18 watts, for mainstream ultrathin laptops, HTPCs, and small form factor desktop replacements. Both will use the Hudson M1 controller hub at launch, with an embedded option to follow later this year.
All indications are that the Brazos platform will be a real winner, based on benchmarking tests that show it pulling ahead of Intel’s Atom processors, namely the D510. Between the Brazos platform and Intel’s upcoming Sandy Bridge platform, this is a great time for the digital signage market and other image processing-intensive applications. The first AMD Fusion Brazos boards with the Hudson controller hub should be arriving at our store later this quarter, with embedded variants following sometime in the second half of 2011.