Not far from Intel’s IDF keynotes, AMD attempts to play spoilsport by demonstrating its first Fusion APU. Zacate is the 18W TDP APU targeted and low-power notebooks and nettops. While there’s no doubt that CPU performance wise the Zacate will line up against Intel’s Atom CPUs, AMD has dared to pit Zacate against Intel’s full blown Core i5 in graphics comparisons. The first demonstration was the latest expansion of City of Heroes, a game Core i5’s IGP wasn’t able to process playable framerates, while Zacate merrily played along at 30+ fps. The other demonstration was Internet Explorer 9 with GPU acceleration, where Zacate renders animations Core i5 is unable to. The performance advantage was an incredible 10x in the Psychedelic benchmark.

Read on for more…

Not far from Intel’s IDF keynotes, AMD attempts to play spoilsport by
demonstrating its first Fusion APU. Zacate is the 18W TDP APU targeted
and low-power notebooks and nettops. While there’s no doubt that CPU
performance wise the Zacate will line up against Intel’s Atom CPUs, AMD
has dared to pit Zacate against Intel’s full blown Core i5 in graphics
comparisons. The first demonstration was the latest expansion of City of
Heroes, a game Core i5’s IGP wasn’t able to process playable
framerates, while Zacate merrily played along at 30+ fps. The other
demonstration was Internet Explorer 9 with GPU acceleration, where
Zacate renders animations Core i5 is unable to. The performance
advantage was an incredible 10x in the Psychedelic benchmark.

We have no doubt that the Core i5 will dominate Zacate in CPU benchmarks, but then again, Zacate’s competition is Atom, not Core CPUs. And against the Atom, Zacate and Ontario are expected to perform significantly better in CPU applications, with GPU applications being an absolute no contest.

AMD have not revealed specifications for the first Fusion APUs, but the rumour mill suggests a Cedar / HD 5450 like GPU featuring 80 SP. This will enable GPU accelerated applications, full HD video and also low-res / low-detail gaming as the City of Heroes benchmark proves. Certainly, very major advancements for the netbook / nettop / low-power low-cost notebook form factors.

Both Ontario and Zacate will release to system builders in Q4 2010, with the systems themselves following in early 2011.

Reference: TechReport, Anandtech

UPDATE: It appears the Core i5 system AMD used for the demonstration didn’t use the latest Intel drivers, despite the manufacturer claiming it did. To clear any confusion, AMD let Anandtech not only force-install the latest driver manually but also re-run the benchmarks on the Zacate system. As a result, the IE9 discrepancy no longer exists, with both the Core i5 and Zacate performing similarly – it is a benchmark that is not really dependent on GPUs.

In an impromptu Batman Arkham Asylum benchmark – something the Zacate APU wasn’t expecting and is probably not optimized for – it outperformed the Core i5 by 45%. In City of Heroes, a 55% lead is maintained, while DirectCompute performance is more than 2.5x higher.

The verdict remains the same – Zacate graphics is dramatically better than Core i5 graphics, yet will be priced in $500 systems against the Atom, which has quite literally zero graphics pedigree to speak of, in addition to crippled CPU performance.

Complete update available at Anandtech.