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AMD E-350: Fusion and Mini-ITX solutions
by Guillaume Louel
Published on April 6, 2011

Announced in summer 2006 on AMD’s buyout of ATI, the Fusion strategy has at last concretised itself with the release of the first APUs. What they’re called has changed (back in the day AMD was talking about Media Processing Units) but the basic concept is the same, integrating CPUs and GPUs on the same die.

The IT market has nevertheless developed considerably over the intervening period. First there was the arrival of netbooks in 2007, followed by Intel’s introduction of a specially designed netbook processor, the Atom, in 2008. In 2010, two other phenomena, the arrival of the tablet and the levelling off of netbook sales, have again moved the market in a new direction. ARM architecture, which already almost exclusively dominated the smartphone and tablet market, received another boost at CES with Microsoft’s cryptic announcement that it would be introducing ARM architecture support with Windows 8.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that, technically speaking, with the Sandy Bridge architecture, Intel is also marketing x86 processors with the CPU and GPU on the same die.

It’s in this context that AMD has launched its first APUs, the Brazos platform (Zacate and Ontario processors) designed mainly for netbooks and entry level or PCHC type PCs. Note that this isn’t AMD’s only ‘Fusion’ project. Llano, which groups Athlon II type cores with a DX11 type architecture is expected in the second quarter and will target mainstream laptop PCs. The chip will be manufactured at 32nm by Global Foundries. The Bulldozer cores will also be available in Fusion versions, in 2012.

The Ontario/Zacate chip

As things stand four distinct APU models have been launched, all based on a new architecture and, of course, with a common die:

  • E-350, 2 cores, 1.6 GHz, Radeon HD 6310 at 500 MHz, 18 watts
  • E-240, 1 core, 1.5 GHz, Radeon HD 6310 at 500 MHz, 18 watts
  • C-50, 2 cores, 1.0 GHz, Radeon HD 6250 at 280 MHz, 9 watts
  • C-30, 1 core, 1.2 GHz, Radeon HD 6250 at 280 MHz, 9 watts
Before looking at platforms and performance, we’re going to go into more detail on the architecture choices made.

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Atom, Bobcat: x86 architectures  

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