AMD Announces Brazos Shipments, Sheds Light On 2012 Roadmaps

Today was AMD's Analyst Day and the CPU manufacturer was anxious to show its execution triumphs and discuss future plans through 2011. One of the most important announcements concerns AMD's Brazos platform, which will debut running both Ontario and Zecate processors. As of today, the first Brazos shipments have begun, with products on store shelves as early as January. We've discussed Ontario and Zecate quite a bit in previous articles; these are both 40nm parts built by TSMC with an integrated CPU. While they aren't direct competition for Atom, they'll be slugging it out in a very similar space.

The slide above illustrates how AMD wants to change the current integrated GPU paradigm. In current designs, the GPU, UVD, and Southbridge functions all communicate with the memory controller via a universal northbridge. The amount of available bandwidth, at ~7GB/s, is low compared to the other interconnects. According to AMD, the new design allows them to triple the amount of available bandwidth to the GPU while simultaneously lowering latency.

This is AMD's process roadmap, though proper execution of it isn't up to Sunnyvale. Based on what we know of GlobalFoundries and TSMC, the star on the top arrow is TSMC's Ontario/Zacate production on 40nm while the 32nm arrow refers to GlobalFoundries 32nm SOI. If so, GF will prototype 28nm almost before it starts shipping 32nm in volume. That could have ramifications for the next generation of GPUs but there's no 28nm SOI scheduled at this time.

The Future Is Fission! Wait...Wrong Word:

AMD has fallen in love with its "Fusion" logo to a degree that could make a catholic priest blush. What's interesting here, however, is the way this slide demonstrates what AMD thinks the future holds. Note the liberal way the words "HD" are slung around. We get the point AMD is trying to make here—namely, that its got the only 'real' HD platform solution—but it's not working for us. First of all, the Internet isn't yet up to the challenge of jumping to HD-heavy content. Blu-ray is only growing slowly, while 3D wheezes like a fat kid chasing cake across the Mojave. Putting them side by side and adding "HD" does nothing to turn them into real trends.


Here's AMD's dnotebook roadmap for 2011/2012; it's the first time we've seen the latter out in public. It looks as though Llano isn't long for this world; it's successor will contain 2-4 Bulldozer cores and a DX11 GPU. One of the benefits of Bulldozer, you may recall, is that its only somewhat larger than a full dual-core CPU, but (according to AMD) should offer most of a 'true' dual-core's performance. Assuming that Bulldozer is more efficient than Llano, the Trinity core could provide a performance boost, a smaller die, and/or a more powerful GPU.

Presumably Krishna and Wichita are the equivalent to the more-powerful Zacate and lightweight Ontario. Quad-core Bobcat could be downright interesting.

Desktop CPUs show Zambezi (now launching in enthusiast markets in the first half of 2011) at 4-8 cores, followed by Komodo (8-core only, plus unspecified enhancements). It looks as though AMD intends to launch a single-module / dual-core flavor of Bulldozer's "Trinity" replacement.

Despite rumors of further delays, everything we know about Llano suggests it's coming along quite well. If AMD doesn't unexpectedly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the next nine months, it looks as though we'll finally see them challenging Intel at the high-end of the market. This still assumes decent scaling from Bulldozer, but things don't look nearly as bleak as they did two years ago. 

AMD's Director of Product Marketing, John Taylor takes us through a demo of the company's Llano Fusion-based APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) with on chip DX11 graphics.