Forget about the CPU (Central Processing Unit). Chipmaker AMD would like you to think instead about what it calls the APU, its Accelerated Processing Unit. The combo product uses a single die to contain, according to AMD, "a multicore CPU, a powerful DirectX 11-capable discrete-level graphics and parallel processing engine, a dedicated high-definition video acceleration block, and a high-speed bus that speeds data across the differing types of processor cores within the design."
That means AMD hopes a Fusion APU in a laptop will take the place of the traditional dedicated CPU/dedicated GPU combo, as well as improve on laptops with a CPU and mediocre integrated graphics. Interestingly, Intel is aiming at some of the same goals by vastly improving the integrated graphics in its new Sandy Bridge line of processors.
Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of the AMD Products Group, says, "In one major step, we enable users to experience HD everywhere as well as personal supercomputing capabilities in notebooks that can deliver all-day battery life. It's a new category, a new approach, and opens up exciting new experiences for consumers."
AMD calls the combined processor/graphics platform Fusion, and says it will support 1080p video playback, DirectX graphics, and 3D video and game content.
The company also has high hopes for battery life in systems that use Fusion, claiming "10 hours or more" for the dual-core E-350 chip meant for 11-inch and mainstream laptops (the single-core version, which we don't expect to see much of, is called the E-240). You'll see that in new laptops from HP, Sony and others. There's also a C-series processor, the single-core C-30 and dual-core C-50, intended for Netbooks, with a low 9W TDP. A high-end A-series version, with up to four cores, is scheduled to ship in the first half of 2011 and appear in products midyear.