There's a lot riding on AMD's CPU+GPU Fusion
part (now known as an APU in official AMD
parlance), but new information suggests that when Llano does launch, it'll do so in a new socket. The new form factor will be known as Socket FM1, but it's not clear how it fits into AMD's roadmap over the next few years. When last we saw that document, it looked like this:
Here we see Bulldozer
arriving in 2011 on AM3. The implication, at least, is that Bulldozer could be a drop-in replacement for anyone who owns a current AM3
board, though AMD has yet to formally comment on this. Llano debuts on its own, unnamed platform at the same time. This implies that anyone with a Llano-based product is going to have a limited upgrade path. Since we already know that Llano is a stopgap APU meant to bridge the divide between Athlon/Phenom II processors and APU products based on Bobcat and Bulldozer, it's possible that Socket FM1 itself may not last very long.
It's no surprise that Llano would require its own socket/chipset, since existing products weren't designed to handle a CPU with an integrated GPU, but we're hoping that the company will return to a single socket platform once Bulldozer is available. Even if AMD doesn't return to a single socket, it's still the better bet for customers who want long-term upgradeability—Core i3 and i5 products are barely six months old, but we already know that Intel's next-generation of chipsets for Sandy Bridge won't be backwards compatible with existing Core i3/i5/i7 products.
A quick update on Llano
, for those of you who might have forgotten: Llano will feature 2-4 cores clocked above 3GHz, a total of 4MB of L2 cache (most likely split at 1MB per core, though we may see some wiggling on this at various price points), and an integrated GPU with DirectX 11 support. Historical evidence suggests that AMD's integrated GPU will perform very well against Intel's, but we won't know for certain until hardware ships out. Llano will almost certainly support AMD's Turbo Core technology, and will use DDR3.