Wednesday, October 25, 2006

AMD fuses graphics and x86

Upon formally completing its merger with ATI this morning, AMD announced its Fusion program, a plan to deliver starting in late 2008 a range of combined CPU and graphics processors for everything from consumer systems for emerging markets to desktops, laptops and servers. An AMD release suggested the company will tap both its proprietary coherent HyperTransport and PCI Express to link the chips to co-processors and other devices.

Intel tried and failed to merge the x86 and graphics for low cost consumer PCs with its Timna years ago. Via had minimal success with its integrated x86 CPUs.

AMD appears to have broader market targets with Fusion than either rival. But all those targets--high end gaming, low end consumer and technical computing-- are pretty much niche markets in computing.

So my question, dear blog commentors, is can AMD make money on welding together graphics and x86 multi-core processors? I'd love to hear your opinions backed up with lively detail! --rbm

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

AMD and Intel are both counting on Moore's Law to enable cost effective SoC or at least highly integrated solutions (e.g. Torenza based). The acquisition of ATI enables AMD to create co-processors that naturally and transparently enable workloads to be accelerated in ways not possible before. Due to the high volume of ATI GPU, AMD can integrate this functionality into processors knowing they already have a good handle of the required functionality while putting forth lower cost solutions.

Intel should not be counted out here as they are the fab process kings and they too have hired many GPU designers to give them an edge albeit without spending billions (perhaps they are finally learning from their mistakes yet the Nvidia take over rumor persists).

The question isn't whether AMD can make money - that is clear. The question isn't whether it will be HT or PCI Express - both will be used. The question is whether AMD can create products that are interesting to and will be relevant to consumers. With the world becoming so mobile and the third world requiring ultra low cost (see MIT not Intel for a glimmer) systems, is AMD's strategy one that will matter to the masses. Sure they'll have the niche gamers or the server compute farms but will that lead to profits and enough volume to feed the ever rising fab cost?