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AMD Fusion to target laptops at first

Performance-per-Watt pitch

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AMD's 'Fusion' processors, due to ship around two years from now, will initially target mobile machines as the chip maker pitches the product's superior performance-per-Watt characteristics, it revealed this week.

Speaking at a chip design conference, AMD's Chief Platform Architect, Steve Polzin, said of Fusion: "Our plan is to focus on mobile to deliver significant increases in performance per Watt. We will start in mobile and hopefully integrate upwards."

AMD introduced Fusion in October on the back of its acquisition of ATI. In early incarnations, Fusion will integrate CPU and GPU onto a single die, but AMD's vision is a palette of processing modules that can be mixed and matched to create multi-core processors suited to specific applications.

Fusion is predicated on AMD's shift to a 45nm processor production process, due to take place late 2008/early 2009, about a year after arch-rival Intel launches its first 45nm CPUs. The new process should of itself help reduce processor power consumption or at least allow AMD to boost performance without upping the power draw. It also allows the company to cram more components into a given area - in other words, not only more CPU cores but also GPUs.

Notebooks then can operate without a dedicated GPU or one built into the chipset. And since AMD CPUs have a good portion of chipset functionality already on board, Fusion should reduce the number of power-drawing parts in the system.

The upshot, said Polzin, will be a "significant, though not dramatic" performance-per-Watt gain.

Intel has its eye on the same target, and recent revelations that it is indeed establishing a graphics chip division suggests it's considering a similar path to reach it.

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