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AMD Finally Unveils Fusion Platform

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AMD has been talking about integrating the CPU and GPU onto one piece of silicon for years now but finally it has demonstrated some working products. Calling the new device an Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), it will be avilable in two versions dubbed Llano and Ontario. The former will be for mainstream notebook platforms while the latter is aimed at the ultra-portable market – dare we call it AMD's netbook platform?

What both will deliver is a proper x86 CPU, integrated DX11 graphics, video decoders, memory controller and system interfaces (IO subsystems like hard drive controllers, USB controller, etc.). However, as when it announced the first DX11 graphics card at last year's Computex, AMD wasn't telling us specs or showing us the chips. Rick Bergman, AMD senior vice president and general manager, did have a wafer of the new chips that he breifly held up but he wouldn't let us take a closer look.

As part of the announcement, AMD showed the latest DX11 Alien vs Predator game running on an APU – again, no word on whether it was the Llano or Ontario. Of course, we weren't told the resolution or in-game settings and the framerate either and it did look a bit ropey (we estimate the framerate was around 20fps) but certainly it was impressive for an integrated GPU.

To coincide with the launch of Fusion, AMD has announced the Fusion fund that, much as it sounds, is a chunk of money put aside for helping 3rd parties develop products for the Fusion platform. Normally this is the kind of announcement we would pay little attention to but given AMD's track record of announcing new technology and then it taking forever for us to actually see products based on it, we hope this fund will actually result in more and better products coming to market in double quick time. That said, AMD estimated we'd be waiting until the first half of next year to see working devices so maybe we shouldn't hold out too much hope.

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