Hot Chips 22 (for now, later at Archives) has shown for the first time that System-on-Chip (SoC) technologies are moving beyond their usual realm of relatively small performance and/or dedicated applications, right into the leading edge mainstream.
– Acer adopts AMD CPU for tablet PCs [Nov 25]
Among Acer’s announced initial batch of tablet PCs, a 10.1-inch Windows 7-based model is believed to use AMD’s Ontario APU codenamed C-50, according to sources from notebook players.
… The dual-core C-50 APU, which consumes only 9W of power, is currently priced at about US$55-60 and includes an integrated Radeon HD 6250 graphics chip [and also UVD dedicated hardware acceleration for HD video including 1080p resolutions, see later].
– Live and interact in total mobility — Tablets according to Acer [Nov 23]:
… support of its goal to simplify content consumption – a strategy which began with the development of Acer’s multimedia sharing system, Clear.fi. Acer’s strategy is based on the concept of sharing multimedia content and enjoying it across any device, and Tablets are ideal devices for this purpose.
A 10.1” Android tablet for a superb mobile and home entertainment experience … Designed for HD entertainment, this tablet comes with a high resolution, high color contrast display, allowing you to play or share HD video with your friends wherever you are. … Available April 2011
7” Android Tablet: the epitome of mobility … On the 7” (1280×800) 16:10 aspect ratio full touch screen, you can enjoy games, photos, videos while keeping up with your emails or your favourite social networks. Video chat or record a video with the front-facing HD camera. With HDMI support, hooking it up for a big screen video experience is easyier than ever! … Available April 2011
10.1” Windows Tablet: Versatility in a tablet form factor … an extremely innovative solution that combines touch screen user-friendliness with the comfortable experience of a physical keyboard. In fact, the tablet comes with a docking device that includes a full-size keyboard and more connectivity options to enhance the user experience. … Thin and light (only 15 mm and less than 1kg), and with a 10.1”, high resolution display, it’s easy to carry around and really unobtrusive. This tablet ensures outstanding entertainment and a superior touch experience. … Available February 2011
Both APUs will have a pair of low-power Bobcat cores and an AMD DX11 GPU. AMD isn’t publicly confirming how many cores the GPU side will have but both will share the same die manufactured on TSMC’s 40nm process.
AMD’s 9W Ontario part clearly goes after Atom in the netbook space (and Bobcat’s out-of-order architecture should ensure performance success), Zacate is going to go after the ~$500 mainstream notebook market. To prove its point AMD setup a Core i5 notebook and a Zacate test platform running City of Heroes at the same settings …
– AMD’s Zacate APU Performance Update [Sept 15]:
… AMD gave us full access to the Zacate platform to do whatever we wanted. AMD wanted us to be completely comfortable with the Zacate comparison. We downloaded the Batman Arkham Asylum demo off of Steam and loaded it on both the Zacate and Core i5 systems.
… The actual gameplay was noticeably quicker on Zacate and the numbers show a 45% performance advantage. This is huge. To sanity check that data we fired up City of Heroes on both machines and played around with them. … On average we saw a 55% improvement over the Core i5 system. … AMD wanted to highlight the DirectCompute performance of Zacate and let us publish the first results from the platform running the N-Body Simulation benchmark: 23 GFLOPS on Zacate and 8.8 GFLOPS on Intel Core i5-520M.
… At the end of the day my take on Zacate (and Ontario) hasn’t changed: these two APUs have the potential to make the low end netbook/notebook market interesting again.
The most glaring examples of the learnings on the Hot Chips 22 were:
Lifting the veil on the hybrid processor-graphics chip in the new Xbox 360 [Aug 23]. This SoC technology has enabled the new Xbox 360 S device’s power consumption and noise significantly reduced, not to speak of the price, which is now $200 for a 4GB version. Because of this Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 S [is a] smash hit, although some are questioning the durability of this trend, attributing it rather to previous Xbox replacements and expecting the bigger trend of the video game industry being down to come into play later. See: Xbox 360 Sales Surge, but Is It an Anomaly? [Aug 16].
AMD Discloses Bobcat & Bulldozer Architectures at Hot Chips 2010 [Aug 24]. These are brand new architecture cores which soon will be integrated into different SoCs, with sub 1 W Bobcat coming into the Ontario SoC (with a yet undisclosed GPU core) aimed at netbooks, ultra-low voltage tablet (slate etc.) and notebook devices the earliest. This might happen by the end of the year, or in Q1 2011.
– AMD update from IFA 2010 [Sept 6]:
AMD plans to ramp production here in 2010, with systems available in early 2011. So here at IFA 2010, we’re both demonstrating the capabilities of low-power AMD Fusion APUs, and providing a little more information on the individual products. “Brazos” is the codename for the notebook, netbook and desktop platforms that will be built from the APU. But the APU itself comes in two flavors based on performance and (low) power draw:
- An 18-watt TDP APU codenamed “Zacate” for ultrathin, mainstream, and value notebooks as well as desktops and all-in-ones.
- And a 9-watt APU codenamed “Ontario” for netbooks and small form factor desktops and devices.
Both low-power APU versions feature two “Bobcat” x86 cores and fully support DirectX11, DirectCompute (Microsoft programming interface for GPU computing) and OpenCL (cross-platform programming interface standard for multi-core x86 and accelerated GPU computing). Both also include UVD dedicated hardware acceleration for HD video including 1080p resolutions.
– AMD’s Bobcat mobile architecture will play it straight [Aug 27]: “Bobcat will smoke Atom clock-for-clock in raw performance, but the performance per watt picture is a bit less clear. This is because it is quite apparent that AMD will have a harder time keeping its power consumption down than Intel does with Atom. … Bobcat is more of a threat to Atom in the netbook and laptop segments than it is in the kinds of appliance-type niches that Intel is now aiming its Atom-based SoCs at. And nobody is going to try to squeeze Bobcat into a smartphone form factor anytime soon”.
– AMD Bobcat & Bulldozer Hot Chips Presentations Online [Aug 25],
– AMD Sets New Mark in x86 Innovation with First Detailed Disclosures of Two New Core Designs [AMD press release, Aug 24],
– AMD Bulldozer and Bobcat Hot Chips Press Kit [Aug 24]
– ”Bulldozer” 20 Questions, Round One [AMD, Aug 23]
– Keeping AMD’s 2011 Code-Names Straight [Aug 24]
– AMD’s Bulldozer Architecture Preview: New from the Ground Up [Aug 24]
– AMD Heats VISION – Hot Chips 22 [Aug 24]
Mindspeed to Present Next Generation of 4G Base Station Technology at HOT CHIPS 22 Conference [Mindspeed press release, Aug 23]. Here the essence is:
“3G and 4G network operators are looking to migrate to a more flexible cellular landscape, which can accommodate compact base stations, such as microcells, picocells and metro femtocells. Mindspeed has designed the Transcede family of baseband processors to enable tomorrow’s network architects to deploy powerful 4G macrocells and ‘small cells,’ which are built on a common framework.”
Launched earlier this year at the 2010 Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, the Transcede family of SoCs integrates an unprecedented 26 programmable processors into a single device, including two ARM(R) Cortex A9(R) multi-core symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) reduced instruction set computer (RISC) processors, ten CEVA(R) digital signal processors (DSPs) and ten DSP accelerators that support the complete wideband code-division multiple access (W-CDMA), LTE or WiMAX (Layers 1, 2 and above) processing needs of single- and multi-sector base stations.