AMD has announced a few details of its upcoming Fusion chip which could threaten Intel's dominance in the market for low-power processors in laptops.
The Fusion chip combines a processor and graphics chip onto a single piece of silicon. AMD claims that this design should improve battery life in laptops and should improve performance in applications designed to take advantage of it. The first Fusion chip, the dual-core Ontario built using a 45nm process is due to be released to system manufacturers in the latter half of this year, so computers equipped with it should appear early next year.
AMD also plans to have a quad-core 32nm Fusion chip, code named Llano, in manufacturers' hands early next year. It's a little odd that AMD should announce the details of the next Fusion chip before the first one is even out, as it could put off potential buyers who may be tempted to wait for Llano instead. According to John Taylor, AMD's Director of Marketing for Fusion, Llano was originally due out earlier but AMD has been having trouble with yields of the new 32nm manufacturing processs.
However, it's heartening to hear any details about Fusion at all, given the many years AMD has been working on the project. It will be for naught if there aren't applications available to take advantage of it though, so AMD is sponsoring the Fusion Fund which will invest in developers willing to code programs that take advantage of Fusion. The chip will be compatible with OpenCL and Microsoft DirectCompute, two programming methods of coding applications so they get a performance boost from a graphics chip.
Few other concrete details are available about Fusion, but it's worth keeping an eye on it if only to see if AMD will finally catch up with Intel when it comes to designing laptop processors. We'll bring you more details as we hear them.