The skinny on AMD’s Fusion chips

AMD has been lagging behind with its processors as compared to Intel who recently announced their next generation Core processors in the name of Sandy Bridge. However, the launch of their latest AMD Fusion might just get them back into the game.

AMD Fusion

Based on initial reports, the AMD Fusion APU proves to be a force to reckon with especially  on low-powered devices like netbooks and tablets. Its advertised graphics performance, long battery life and AMDs reputation for having affordable chips will earn Fusion-powered devices strong consideration in the near future.

So what’s the deal with AMD Fusion? What makes it worth looking out for? Can it really compete with Intel? Here’s our simple primer on AMD’s latest offering, the AMD Fusion.

In a nutshell, what is AMD Fusion all about?

AMD Fusion

The Fusion is a single or dual core CPU and a GPU embedded on a single die. AMD calls this hybrid chip an APU or Accelerated Processing Unit. What’s exciting here is that AMD claims that the GPU’s performance is the same as a discrete GPU and also supports DirectX 11. What does this mean? Very good video performance with onboard hardware acceleration for smoother HD video processing. In terms of battery life, AMD announced that these APUs can offer a minimum of 8-hours (idle) battery life with the C-series going for as long as 12 hours.

What are the flavors of AMD Fusion?

There are three version of AMD Fusion each targeting a different market segment. The C and E-Series are low-powered APUs for consumer devices that will start to roll out early this year. The A-Series can offer up to four cores to power performance notebooks and desktops which are set to arrive later this year.

Low Power APUs Model TDP Core Freq.
E-Series (Zacate)
Designed for mainstream notebooks, All-in-Ones, and small form factor desktops
E-350 18 W 2 1.6 GHz
E-250 18 W 1 1.5 GHz
C-Series (Ontario)
Designed for HD netbooks and other emerging form factors such as tablets
C-50 9 W 2 1.0 GHz
C-30 9 W 1 1.2 GHz

What is the Intel counterpart of these AMD Fusion APUs?

The E-Series (Zacate) will mostly compete with the Intel’s ultralow-voltage (ULV) Core series mobile processors. These would look nice on thin-and-light or ultraportable notebooks especially in the 11 or 12-inch category that we will see more of this year.

The C-Series (Ontario) would probably try to outsell Atom. AMD Fusion might have an edge in terms of graphics (support 1080p HD playback) but the Atom (N550) has a clock speed of 1.5GHz and comes with Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology. Both are almost similar when it comes to power consumption. 8.5W for Intel and 9W for AMD.

Should I go with Intel or AMD for my next laptop?

The future looks bright for AMD and their Fusion chips but it’s still early to tell whether there’s significant improvement on Fusion-powered laptops as compared to their Intel counterpart. What you’ll probably get from AMD Fusion notebooks is better integrated graphics with a very decent batter life. Intel will still get a better overall performance but who knows?HP Pavilion dm1z laptopI would definitely want to see or do a notebook performance comparison between same-category processors from Core 2010, Core 2011 and AMD Fusion. If you want more reading material, LaptopMag recently reviewed and gave the AMD Fusion-powered HP Pavilion dm1z laptop an Editor’s Choice award. All I can say right now is that the AMD Fusion is something techies should be excited about.

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