Rounding out our coverage of CES 2011, Drew and I stopped by AMD’s meeting rooms at the Las Vegas Convention Center. We had a meeting setup with AMD’s John Taylor to discuss Fusion, as well as the upcoming processor road maps. Some interesting discussion ensued…
Check out that image above (Don’t laugh!). That is a Zacate APU, featuring 2x Bobcat cores and the equivalent of a Radeon HD5450 DX11 graphics processing unit, with a TDP of 19 watts, all in a package no larger than your thumbprint! Now, to call such a chip ‘impressive’ simply doesn’t give AMD enough credit. Scale down the clock speeds on both the Bobcat cores and the GPU and you have yourself an Ontario with a TDP of just 9 watts! Also important to mention is that the GPU in Zacate/Ontario is not all HD5XXX generation, but in fact contains the video processing engine from the HD6XXX series of cards.
So what products will these chips be fitting into you ask? Primarily netbooks and low-end ultra-portable notebooks. On the netbook side, users will be gaining substantially in the CPU/GPU performance department, while hopefully maintaining, if not improving on existing battery life numbers. With that however, users should expect prices to be between $50/$100 higher than current ATOM-based netbooks of similar size/spec. On the notebook side, you’ll likely take a hit in CPU power when compared to ULV Core 2′s, and especially Core i3′s/Sandy Bridge. However graphically, Zacate will offer an improvement over current ION/Optimus graphics solutions and should maintain excellent battery life.
What about tablets, slates, or even smart phones? Are they in the cards? Yes, for 2012. AMD says that in order to accommodate the tablet market, ideally they’d like to get these chips under the 3-5w mark, depending on application. For that, they expect to be able to tune the silicon as it is and have a solution by the end of the year that should be ideal for these markets. And smart phones? Well, again, John tells me that AMD has a plan for this and Zacate/Ontario is ideally the first step toward having a solution for those products. Will there be a Zacate/Ontario based smartphone this year? Absolutely not, with their be a derivation at some point in 2012? Probably not, but 13 may be the lucky number for AMD in our opinion.
In the gallery above you can see the current road map for AMD’s APU line up. You will notice that in 2012, Krishna and Wichita bring along several improvements. The most noticeable being a die-shrink from 40nm all the way down to 28nm, as well as adding 2 more Bobcat cores, for a total of up to 4 cores per APU! The Bobcat cores will also be further “enhanced”, most likely adding in further TDP improvements per core.
Overall, we are looking at a very impressive, very interesting year for AMD in the ultra-portable mobile sector.