If we can believe what we read, there is a real danger that the Fusion chips, and the overall concept may end up being a feather in Intel’s cap, as they already have  chips shipping that have CPU and GPU on the same silicon.

AMD is the company that first spoke of this idea widely, why is it that Intel is doing what AMD is still continuing to talk about? Is it a lack of dollars only, or is there a lack of vision at AMD lately?

An article from ComputerWorld tells the reader that AMD is on track to release the Fusion chips that will power laptop computers, in the first part of next year –

Advanced Micro Devices is ahead of schedule with its upcoming Fusion chips, which will appear first in netbooks and low-end laptops early next year, but not in tablets, the company said on Thursday.

Interest from customers pushed AMD to accelerate the development of a low-power Fusion chip code-named Ontario, which the company will start shipping for revenue in the fourth quarter, AMD CEO Dirk Meyer said during a conference call to discuss the company’s earnings.

“The timeline for Ontario has changed dramatically,” Meyer said.

The company showed in June the first chips based on the Fusion architecture, which combines CPU and GPU (graphics processing unit) cores in the same chip. The Ontario Fusion chip has two x86 processor cores and a DirectX 11 GPU chip.

Ontario should make AMD more competitive in areas such as netbooks, which are currently dominated by Intel. The chip will bring improved graphics to devices that have smaller screens and consume little power, Meyer said.

“It’ll position well against Atom,” he said.

Intel’s Atom chips for netbooks include integrated graphics chips but still have been criticized for poor graphics performance. An integrated DirectX 11-capable processor should allow playback of full 1080p video on small screens.

Ontario won’t be targeted at tablets for now, however, Meyer said. The tablet market is not mature and the company wants to focus on more established areas, he said. Executives hinted, however, that the chip could eventually reach tablets when the market starts to ripen.

Intel already makes Atom chips for tablets, and Nvidia offers the Tegra 2 for tablets. Both see tablets as a new way to generate revenue. Apple is the major supplier of tablets with its iPad, which uses an internally developed chip with an Arm design.

AMD is also developing a Fusion chip code-named Llano for consumer laptops and desktops. The company has not changed the timing for Llano’s release, which will be sometime next year, AMD spokesman Drew Prairie said via e-mail. He did not provide a specific release date.

Ontario will be manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. using a 40-nanometer manufacturing process. It will not be made by GlobalFoundries, AMD’s manufacturing spin-off in which it holds a stake.

“As part of the new cross-license agreement we reached with Intel late last year … there are no limitations on where we can manufacture our products,” Prairie wrote.

It’s nice to know that AMD won’t be hamstrung by lack of capacity in Global Foundries, but the average user really does not care where the device is made, only that it works, and works well. TSMC is already manufacturing many of the GPU chips for AMD/ATi offerings, so it is not surprising that they would get the nod – especially after reading that the company was starting another multibillion dollar fab to increase capacity.

Putting a DX 11 capable graphics core into the chip sounds great, but will it be enough to quell the buying pangs of many until the pieces arrive at the storefront?

After all, Intel may not have the graphics capability now, but the efficiency numbers, and the CPU power overall, seem to be in the hands of Intel, if their press releases are to be believed. Their tick-tock timetables are placing AMD in a small bind, because the next generation Sandy Bridge combo chips are going to beat AMD to market.

ZDNet has the story about those combo chips, which promise gains in several areas –

Still haven’t upgraded your Core Duo or even your Pentium 4 system yet? If you want to jump straight to Intel’s latest and greatest for your next PC, you may want to skip the current generation of “Nehalem” Core processors, because the chip giant says it’s ramping up the schedule to get its new Sandy Bridge platform to market by the end of the year.

And when they say, end of the year, they mean, in time for Christmas purchases.

Sandy Bridge CPUs are slated for a late 2010 release, but CEO Paul Otellini said on Intel’s quarterly earnings call this week that customer interest from system manufacturers was so high that the company has to pour additional resources into meeting that demand. Given that Intel’s mobile device strategy beyond laptops is far from a slam dunk, it’s not entirely surprising that Otellini enthused, “I am more excited about Sandy Bridge than I have been about any product that the company has launched in a number of years.”

Why the hype? Sandy Bridge will shrink the memory controller and the integrated GPU down to 32nm, the size at which the latest CPUs are manufactured. The result should be not only improved performance, but less power usage and a lower thermal output. According to leaked information, Sandy Bridge processors should all offer clock speeds of at least 3.1GHz, whether they fall under Intel’s continuing Core i3, i5, or i7 series. While the new Core i7 and i3 parts will support Hyper-Threading, the new i5s will not. The Core i7 2600 quad-core will also sport 8MB of L3 cache, though that will be shared between the CPU and GPU.

Will all of this result in plenty of Sandy Bridge-based desktops and laptops reaching consumers by the holiday season? That would be a fine gift for Intel fanboys — and a lump of coal in AMD’s stocking.

Very few people are patient enough for reviews and comparisons when the holidays are upon them, and an Intel bird in the hand beats an AMD (possibly more graphically capable) bird in the (unreachable until 2011) bush every time.

So, in a story we have all seen before, a better product may be sidestepped by much of the buying public, as it is going to arrive just a tad late, and the product that is available will garner a huge following simply because it is not vaporware.

I hope someone at AMD is ready to burn the midnight oil.




The great question – which I have not been able to answer – is: “What does a woman want?”

Sigmund Freud

PinkynBrain All this technology makes for many hard choices…