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AMD looks to branding, games to fix things

Advanced Micro Devices is turning to a new branding strategy with the hope of infusing new life into its processor platform.

"The Future is Fusion." So Advanced Micro Devices would like you to believe.

AMD is turning to a new branding strategy with the hope of infusing new life into its processor platform and the company as a whole.

AMD's Fusion for Gaming is the first "proof point" of AMD's Fusion branding strategy.
AMD's Fusion for Gaming is the first "proof point" of AMD's Fusion branding strategy. AMD

The chipmaker on Thursday is expected to introduce a "smaller proof point" of the larger Fusion strategy dubbed "AMD Fusion for gaming," which is software that optimizes PCs for faster gaming.

Confused yet? Wait, there's more. To date, AMD has used the term to describe its future silicon graphics strategy that proposes to fuse the main processor and graphics chip onto one piece of silicon. AMD believes the broader Fusion concept "captures the benefits of this same collaborative initiative across a range of technology platforms."

Branding is one thing, execution another. Though AMD's graphics chip business has performed well since it brought out the 4800 series in June and--at the very least--made it competitive with Nvidia, the same can't be said about its processors.

It's a generation of process technology behind Intel and its vaunted and long-delayed "native" quad-core processors have not displaced Intel silicon in any significant way. Certainly not in the gaming world.

And AMD faces Intel's formidable Core 2 technology in the mobile space.

The company is also on the verge of a major restructuring--a strategy AMD calls Asset Smart.

AMD's Chief Marketing Officer Nigel Dessau describes the larger strategy as marrying innovation with collaboration. "Fusion is the most focused articulation yet" of this concept, he said in a statement.

We'll see. For now, the proof of concept is software that AMD claims can run a user's existing PC up to 10 percent faster and "simplifies the PC gaming experience," said Brent Barry, AMD's gaming strategist.

The Fusion for Gaming utility (a beta version can be downloaded from AMD's Web site now) will tweak the PC's settings. The first time it will run in "basic mode" and turn on "AMD Boost," according to Barry. This is "a set of registry changes and settings within the processor," he said.

"The other thing it does is shuts down background processes and services that you don't need to be running while playing a game. It frees up a lot of the memory space and CPU utilization," Barry said.

There's also a more advanced mode that shuts down features in Vista such as the Aero glass interface, the gadgets sidebar, and user applications. The expert mode gets into hard drive acceleration and CPU/GPU overclocking.

Barry said AMD also plans to bring out a more general-purpose Fusion application that allows users to fine tune their laptop PCs to save power when, for example, taking a long flight.

All of this, however, is only available on an AMD platform, Barry said. An AMD processor and AMD GPU are required. Though the utility won't check for an AMD chipset, the user will lose some features in a system that doesn't have an AMD chipset.

On the first beta, AMD is only supporting Windows Vista 32, Barry said.