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AMD Talks Up Bobcat

Intel Developer Forum, Day Two
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In our second-day coverage of Intel's Developer Forum, we see Sandy Bridge's graphics engine handle 3D Blu-ray on the PC, AMD's forthcoming Zacate processor in action, SSDs help improve gaming performance, and Boxee shift away from Nvidia's Tegra.

Bobcat is the code name for AMD's architecture targeted at mainstream applications. It’s the first fruit of the company’s long-awaited Fusion program, which builds a fully DirectX 11-compliant GPU onto the CPU core. The first actual processors to ship will be Ontario and Zacate, aimed at the 9 W (netbook) to 18 W (mainstream thin and light) thermal design envelopes. Zacate will be a dual-core design, and the on-die graphics use the same architecture as AMD's existing Radeon 5000-series, though the company didn’t disclose shader unit counts or clocks.

A Zacate development system was on hand, running several demos against an Intel Core i5 system with integrated graphics. One demo showed City of Heroes running using “performance” settings at 1024x768, with the Zacate system clearly outpacing Intel’s HD Graphics on the Core i5. The other demo featured HTML5 running on Microsoft’s Internet Express 9 tech preview. The “psychedelic” demo posted frame rates 15x faster than the Intel version.

Of course, these are demos on a development system versus shipping systems, and the problem AMD faces is that Sandy Bridge laptops are likely to be shipping about the time Zacate-based products actually hit the streets. AMD is betting that initial Sandy Bridge laptops will be premium priced laptops, while AMD is aiming at mobile PCs in the $500 range.

Llano, the first quad-core Fusion-enabled chip, will be based on more traditional K8 architecture on the CPU side, but won’t be shipping until mid-2011.

One of the most interesting aspects of Zacate, however, is how it will be built. The new APU will be manufactured by TSMC, rather than Global Foundries, and will center on the foundry's 40 nm manufacturing process--the same process used to build current-generation AMD Radeon HD 5000-series GPUs.

Speaking of graphics, AMD’s Dave Hoff also alluded to its next-generation graphics, code named Northern Islands. Little actual data was forthcoming, but the magic eight-ball says “sooner than you think.”

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  • 0 Hide
    vns , September 15, 2010 1:18 PM
    Good coverage, but is it justified to bring in "zacate" to IDF ? :) 
  • 7 Hide
    rwmunchkin12788 , September 15, 2010 2:16 PM
    I think the article is right on the money when it says the Sandy Bridge based laptops will be marketed as premium mobile PC's, while the AMD Zacate will be cheaper.

    I personally think AMD will win out in the cheap laptop with integrated graphics battle. AMD just has a great chance to put a big dent in this market in their favor.
  • 4 Hide
    lamorpa , September 15, 2010 6:52 PM
    It is very sad to see half of the 'local students' trying out the Classmate PCs are overweight or obese. There may be some more fundamental programs these kids need, like healthy living.
  • 1 Hide
    azcoyote , September 15, 2010 7:51 PM
    I like the Boxee idea but seriously... Where the &%$# is anyone gonna fit a device shaped like that?
  • 1 Hide
    insightdriver , September 15, 2010 8:09 PM
    @azcoyote, based on looking at the rear side of the box, I gather it sits flat, albiet, skewed, but is small enough that fitting it on a shelf won't be a problem. It's just "out of the box," in shape, so to speak. :-)
  • 2 Hide
    kilthas_th , September 15, 2010 10:10 PM
    You'll want to take a look at Anandtech's updated notes on the Zacate chip. It appears that the "psychedelic" benchmark wins were due to the OEM driver for the Intel GPU. When updated, they scored basically the same. However, Zacate still trounced it in CoH and also Arkham Asylum.
  • 0 Hide
    milktea , September 15, 2010 10:11 PM
    I don't want a Boxee. I want a flatee. :D 
  • 0 Hide
    dowsire , September 16, 2010 2:40 AM
    Quote:
    Speaking of graphics, AMD’s Dave Hoff also alluded to its next-generation graphics, code named Northern Islands. Little actual data was forthcoming, but the magic eight-ball says “sooner than you think.”


    What? I thought the new AMD HD 6800s were going to be southern island. Is northern island actually coming out earlier like 1H11 or in the beginning 2H11. The same time that Bulldozer and AM3+ comes out.
    2nd why is the "cpu" so important in fusion chips.I think that the AMD version, priced as mainstream, will be better than the sandy bridge. More and more software is being off loaded to the GPU, even MS is making software run from the gpu i.e. internet explorer 9.
  • 0 Hide
    eastcoaster , September 16, 2010 4:14 AM
    When is Intel going to do a SSD refresh I wonder?? Me want!!
  • 0 Hide
    jimmysmitty , September 16, 2010 4:42 AM
    vnsGood coverage, but is it justified to bring in "zacate" to IDF ?


    Why not? IDF is not just for Intel. Sure Intel started it and is the main attraction but its for developers everywhere to show stuff off.

    I like it that way. Lets Intel and AMD see whats coimng.
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , September 16, 2010 5:41 AM
    AMD IGP verse Intel IGP will always yield the same results since Intel IGP is crap. Zacate verse Sandy-bridge in anything that involves the GPU will always result the same.
  • 2 Hide
    palladin9479 , September 16, 2010 6:46 AM
    Problem with all IGP's is they use the local system memory. Its already been demonstrated that a GFX cards memory bandwidth is critical to performance, it needs faster access to that data in order to crunch it. DDR-3 may be good and all for general memory access but its no where near fast enough for high performance / high demand graphics processing. All IGP's will be limited to the same performance as what their memory allows, upgrade the system memory to higher bandwidth and suddenly the IGP jumps up in performance too.
  • -2 Hide
    Tamz_msc , September 16, 2010 10:01 AM
    falchardAMD IGP verse Intel IGP will always yield the same results since Intel IGP is crap. Zacate verse Sandy-bridge in anything that involves the GPU will always result the same.

    Head over to AnnadTech and look at the updated benchmarks, Intel IGP is not that crap, and Sandy Bridge graphics will be twice as good.
  • -2 Hide
    Tamz_msc , September 16, 2010 10:03 AM
    I hope the new Intel SSDs are priced reasonably.
  • 0 Hide
    marraco , September 16, 2010 12:29 PM
    I confirm it: "hitching" is a major annoyance, that is not reflected on FPS averaged over a second.
  • 0 Hide
    WR2 , September 16, 2010 8:43 PM
    Any chance you can have an expanded segment on the mobility emphasis? Thanks for the coverage.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 16, 2010 9:52 PM
    er I thought the Boxee box was using a ce4100 processor....? as per other sites....including anandtech?
  • 0 Hide
    youssef 2010 , September 17, 2010 12:49 AM
    AMD made Phenom II to comnpete against core2duo but intel was already shipping i7s by then as the core2 successor.So, AMD priced its new products according to the prices of Core2Duos and Core2Quads and the prices kept getting lower as intel lowered its prices on c2d.
  • 0 Hide
    dEAne , October 4, 2010 3:19 AM
    noted. I'm quite impressed with SSD.