AMD prepares Fusion APU for servers

It has been nearly five years in the making, but finally, we are edging closer to the Fusion APU. The first Fusion product will be Llano, designed for mainstream desktop and notebook, is set to hit retail early in 2011. However, the scope of Fusion in the server environment has remained doubtful, in the short term. John Fruehe, Director of Product Marketing for Server/Workstation, confirms that Fusion will definitely head to Servers, though it may take some time yet.

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It has been nearly five years in the making, but finally, we are edging
closer to the Fusion APU. The first Fusion product will be Llano,
designed for mainstream desktop and notebook, is set to hit retail early
in 2011. However, the scope of Fusion in the server environment has
remained doubtful, in the short term. John Fruehe, Director of Product
Marketing for Server/Workstation, confirms that Fusion will definitely
head to Servers, though it may take some time yet.

The main strong point of the APU is the full-fledged GPU that is integrated. Of course, while the GPU is far more powerful than the CPU, it is a much more specific-purpose processor, so the effectiveness of the GPU remains largely dependent on the software. When the GPU’s potential is exploited, the APU will offer a revolutionary – several times – increase in performance over just a CPU.

In the consumer side, more applications are starting to embrace GPU compute. For servers, however, a lot of development work has to be done at the server level. GPUs are starting to be used by servers, where the server has specific software written to use the GPU. Nvidia is investing a lot into its Tesla program, and AMD are releasing their next-generation FireStream processors soon, as well. The GPU Compute revolution is not just limited to the consumer environment – servers are catching up as well. This bodes well for Fusion APUs.

There’s no doubt that AMD is steadily gearing Fusion towards the server environment. The consumer desktops and notebooks, however, will have first bite at the promising product. Meanwhile, Intel themselves are readying Sandy Bridge – which includes an integrated GPU as well. The difference is, AMD’s GPU is far more powerful, and designed for GPU compute applications. Eventually, there’s no doubt Intel will apply all the Larrabee research into the GPU part of their CPUs, but for now, AMD has a massive advantage on the GPU part. On the other hand, Intel has no doubt a superior CPU architecture.

Reference: AMD Blog (Thanks to Xbitlabs.com for the tip)

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