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AMD Zacate Unveiled


AMD Zacate Unveiled

A couple of weeks ago, AMD unveiled the Bobcat core that will sit at the heart of its future Fusion Accelerated Processing units (APUs). Now the company has confirmed the first product based on this design will be an 18W part called Zacate that will find its way onto mainstream laptops and small desktops and be arriving at the tail end of this year.

Further down the line we'll also see Ontario which is a 9W part aimed more at netbook type devices, providing battery life of 10+ hours while still having a modicum of gaming performance.

Zacate, combines two Bobcat cores and a graphics core onto a single piece of silicon, as opposed to two bits of silicon on the same package, making it the first of AMD's Fusion line. Despite several attempts we couldn't confirm specs of the graphics core but we were told it will be DirectX11 compatible so theoretically can play all the latest games. Behind closed doors we were also shown a demo of the 18W part playing some 3D games and it appeared to offer playable framerates, but we weren't able to check what the settings of the game were.

Also shown was acclerated rendering of HTML5 content in a beta version of IE9 and HD video video playback.

The Bobcat design is to a certain extent a competitor to Intel's Atom core but will offer higher performance due largely to its out of order design, as opposed to the in order design of Atom. However, it will still be someway behind conventional laptop CPU designs so isn't really a competitor to Intel's recently announced Sandy Bridge designs. As such it seems destined to carve out its own niche of laptop device. Time will tell if that segment turns out to be lucrative or not.

Pricing and clock speeds for the parts haven't yet been officially revealed but while chatting to Vice President of Marketing for AMD, Leslie Sobon, we were told that they will be in the ball park of current Intel Pentium dual core prices. So £50 or so.


September 15, 2010, 10:10 am

Not a competitor to Sandy Bridge? Given how it completely trounces i5 based integrated GPU's and at a considerably lower price point I think its definitely a competitor. The target devices (low-mid range laptops) are going to benefit much more from a semi-decent GPU over a completely rubbish one compared to an average CPU versus a faster one. Not to mention overall it's going to be much cheaper than an Intel solution and it's TINY! (AMD + ATI) > Intel!!



September 15, 2010, 1:17 pm

I'm very much inclined to a agree with you xenos, like RAM, high levels of processor redundancy is a reality for all but the most intense user, graphics and HDD are the new bottlenecks


September 15, 2010, 2:49 pm

Isn't that precisely the point? Those who require huge processing power will get a Sandy Bridge (which will have faster integrated graphics than the current i5), whereas those who require a low cost alternative to perform everyday tasks will get something like this, therefore not quite the same market. I think that's what Benny was alluding to.


September 15, 2010, 7:40 pm

Chris whilst the Sandy Bridge IGP will undoubtedly be faster than that of the i5's, there's a good chance the budget Zacate will offer better still! This leaves AMD able to offer some pretty tasty onboard graphics configurations with their high end mobile part, Llano, in more expensive laptops.

Unless Intel get very aggressive with their pricing most people are going to be happy enough with the price and performance of an AMD Zacate based system when they open a browser window etc. and play a video in a shop. In my experience general system responsiveness isn't going to get much snappier unless the system has a SSD.

Netbooks - AMD Ontario - Single Bobcat Core & IGP - Has an Out Of Order core rather than the In Order of the Atom. Also MUCH better IGP than current and probably next gen Atom.

Low / Mid Range Laptop - AMD Bobcat - Zacate Dual Core - Better IGP than current i3 / i5's. Probably still better or as good as Sandy Bridge IGP. Bobcat CPU core's won't be as fast as Sandy Bridge but the full system price should be VERY competitive.

Mid / High End Laptop - AMD Llano - Rumours of heavily modified Phenom II x4 with IGP - Unsure of IGP performance numbers but almost certainly going to have a killer IGP compared to Sandy Bridge.

So whilst we've pretty much reached 'fast enough' in terms of CPU's with current i5's, Core2 Duo's and Phenom II's, AMD is hoping to hammer home it's advantage in powerful IGP's to counter Intel's weakening (less useful) advantage of having the faster CPU. Of course IGP's will reach 'fast enough' in the not too distant future too for most people but I see AMD getting a lot out of this in the mid term and hopefully they can keep some pressure on Intel who have only managed to put a reletively modest DirectX 10.1 part in Sandy Bridge whilst bowing to pressure to include USB3 support.


September 15, 2010, 7:55 pm

@Chris: Benny wasn't alluding to anything, I was! ;)

But otherwise, you're right. The GPU on Sandy Bridge is set to offer at least double the performance of the current generation so combined with a much faster CPU and no doubt impressive energy consumption it will be very competitive across the mainstream laptop sector.


September 15, 2010, 11:27 pm

@Ed: Oops! My apologies ;)

@xenos: I would argue that most people actually don't care what kind of integrated graphics they have, because almost all are 'fast enough' already. The ubiquity of the Intel GMA in budget/mainstream laptops would seem to indicate this. If games or graphics applications don't interest you and video playback is adequate, what more do you need? Certainly, if you're in the market for a Zacate you're no gamer.

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