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AMD demos first Fusion 'APU'

Party like it's 2009

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The first processor to emerge from AMD's long-gestating Fusion effort made its demo debut on Tuesday at the Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan.

A Fusion processor is neither a CPU nor GPU, but in AMD parlance an APU — an accelerated processing unit. An APU not only marries a GPU and a CPU onto the same die, but can also include video processing and other application-specific accelerators.

"When AMD formally launches the AMD Fusion family of APUs, scheduled for the first half of in 2011, we expect the PC experience to evolve dramatically," said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of the AMD Product Group in a prepared statement.

The demo was done in partnership with Microsoft OEM group vice president Steven Guggenheimer, and according to a Bergman blog post, involved a Windows 7 machine based on a Fuson processor running APU-accelerated Internet Explorer 9 and DirectX 11 rendering and special effects. eWeek reports that attendees were also treated to some clips from Alien vs. Predator.

The demo was a long time coming. The Fusion effort was first announced in October of 2006, with the moniker APU first bestowed that December. Originally, Fusion processors were expected to begin to appear in late 2008 or early 2009. Needless to say, they didn't.

At the time of its announcement, AMD said that the prime goal of Fusion was "to provide the best customer experience in a world increasingly reliant upon 3D graphics, digital media and high-performance computing." The past four years, of course, have seen an explosion in digital media. AMD gives as one example a comScore study that found that in the US alone, 83.1 per cent of internet users between them watched 28.1 billion web-based videos in February of this year.

Whether or AMD's Fusion chips can take the lead in feeding what is increasingly becoming HD-level video hunger will be answered not only by their ability to produce high-performance, cost-effective, versatile chips, but also whether or not there will be the software, tools, and specialized hardware to enable them. AMD seems to understand this, and it has also launched the Fusion Fund, an investment program designed to spur Fusion-related product development.

"We want to reward innovation," writes John Taylor, Fusion director of marketing in a blog post. "It's the lifeblood of our company and the foundation on which the computing industry is built. With that in mind, projects we would consider might include a range of next-generation and accelerated computing solutions designed to work with AMD Fusion APU products, including application software and tool development, unique device designs or PC components."

If you're interested in hopping aboard the Fusion Fund gravy train, you can sign up here. We do, however, recommend that you first read AMD's Fusion white paper (PDF) so that you can get all your appropriately buzzwordian ducks in a row. ®

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