AMD poised to insert chips into Japanese slot machines, collect coins

And pulls back covers on three new sets of system-on-chips for embedded gear

Mesmerizing ... Pachinko players in Japan (source)

AMD is going to reveal a significant customer win within the next few months – in the gambling world.

The California biz, which is hurting bad in the PC and graphics card space, really wants to slot its chips into next-gen arcade-like casino machines and pachinko halls to bring home some much-needed cash.

It's been wanting to do this for a while, but apparently it has made new progress as demand increases for gambling machines with high-end 3D graphics – particularly in Japan. We're told two to three million units are sold a year in this overall market, and AMD is eager to collect some winnings from the sector.

Before that though, it will today tear the wraps off three new sets of G-series x86 system-on-chips: the LX, the third-generation I family, and the third-generation J family.

The G-series is at the low-power end of AMD's embedded processors; the R-series is at the other end, where brute-force performance matters. The two series are aimed at non-traditional IT gear: digital signs, military and aerospace equipment (like Airbus A380 cockpit displays), thin clients, industrial control systems, shopping tills, and yes, gambling machines.

AMD's embedded processor family ... where the new chips (in orange) fit in
Click to enlarge

The entry-level LX is pin-compatible with the second-generation G-series chips, and the two third-gen I and J SoCs are pin compatible with the R-series. This is a first for the G-series, we're told.

That means, if all goes according to plan, you should be able to switch the processor on one board for another pin-compatible processor without having to redesign all the electronics: it should be possible to take a machine designed for a second-gen G-series SoC and pop in an LX part instead, and not have to relayout the motherboard – a time consuming and expensive process.

The thinking behind this is to allow AMD's customers to design for themselves a single common hardware platform and then drop in the processors that meet the requirements of the final products the electronics are being packed into. Don't forget these are system-on-chips: so the CPU, GPU and peripheral controllers are all in the same package.

So, for example, a board can have a third-generation J-family part on it and go into a digital sign, or it could have an R-series CPU that's a little more brawny and go into a thin client. This means less hassle designing, documenting, testing, building and selling stuff.

"Pin compatibility is critical to our customers," Scott Aylor, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD Enterprise Solutions, told The Register.

"The embedded market is very fragmented, and our customers want have a single system or platform that can span across multiple products. These boards can also run the same software stack. From a hardware and software perspective, it is a common investment for the customer."

Essentially, x86 performance and software stacks in embedded products without the Wild West ways of the ARM ecosystem.

Exchanging a third-gen G-series for a first-generation R-series (don't let the numbers fool you: a 2015 R-series will spank a third-gen G-series in terms of raw performance)

Swapping a new LX G-series SoC for a second-gen G-series

Here's what's new today:

  • Third-generation G-series
    • I family aka "Brown Falcon"
      • Highest processor performance with 4K video, DDR4 ECC memory interfaces.
      • Two Excavator x86 cores (as seen in 2015's Carrizo) clocked at 1.7 to 2GHz, with ARM-based security coprocessor, HSA 1.0 support and 1MB of shared L2 cache.
      • Radeon R6E GPU with up to four compute units clocked at 758MHz, with support for OpenGL and DirectX 12, and up to two display interfaces via HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, and Embedded DisplayPort 1.4.
      • Dual channel 64-bit DDR4 or DDR3 memory with error correction code support.
      • 4K x 2K H.265 decode and multi-format encode and decode.
      • PCIe gen-3, USB 3 and USB 2, and SATA interfaces.
      • 15W TDP.
    • J family aka "Prairie Falcon"
      • Mid-range performance with 4K video.
      • Two Excavator x86 cores clocked at 1.8 to 2.2GHz, or 2.4 to 2.8GHz, depending on the part ordered, with ARM-based security coprocessor, HSA 1.0 support and 1MB of shared L2 cache.
      • Radeon R5E GPU with up to three compute units clocked at 600 or 686MHz, plus support for OpenGL and DirectX 12, and up to two display interfaces via HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, and Embedded DisplayPort 1.4.
      • Single channel 64-bit DDR4 or DDR3 memory.
      • 4K x 2K H.265 decode with 10-bit compatibility and multi-format encode and decode.
      • PCIe gen-3, USB 3 and USB 2, and SATA interfaces.
      • 8 to 10W or 10 to 15W TDP depending on the part.
  • G-Series LX family
    • Focus on low cost and low power.
    • Two Jaguar x86 cores, clocked at 800MHz to 1.8GHz, depending on the part, with 1MB shared L2 cache.
    • Radeon R1E GPU with a single compute unit and up to two display interfaces via HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2, and Embedded DisplayPort 1.4.
    • Single channel 64-bit DDR3 memory.
    • PCIe gen-2, USB 3 and USB 2, and SATA interfaces.
    • 15W TDP down to 6W or less, depending on the part.

You can find more info about the embedded processors over here. ®

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