18W Fusion APU goes head to head with Core i5

As usual, AMD was camped out in a hotel room not far from the IDF venue today, where it was showing off its own upcoming chip based on a new CPU architecture with integrated graphics.  In this case, the chip in question was the "APU" code-named Zacate, based on dual Bobcat CPU cores and Evergreen-class DirectX 11 graphics.  With an 18W max power rating, Zacate is the faster of the two Bobcat-based APUs.  AMD put its Zacate test platform into a direct-comparison demo against a Core i5-based laptop.

The head-to head comparo was graphics-focused.  One part involved a recent City of Heroes expansion, with the game running first on the Core i5's integrated graphics and then on Zacate's.  Frame rates were 6-7 FPS on the Core i5 system's HD Graphics integrated graphics processor, while they rose into the high 30s on Zacate—with apparently higher image quality on the Zacate system, too.

Up next was an early version of Internet Explorer 9 with GPU acceleration rendering some graphically rich demo sites.  Again, the Core i5 laptop struggled to produce smooth animations, while Zacate made it look effortless.

We don't yet know the specs of the graphics hardware in Zacate, but an AMD representative described it as a "discrete type" GPU.  The APU will also include a video decode block similar to the UVD hardware in current Radeons—and perhaps closer to the UVD unit in the upcoming "Northern Islands" generation of Radeon graphics chips.


Above is a picture of the Zacate test board.  It ain't pretty, but the thing to note is the tiny cooler on the Zacate APU.  This is the high-power version of this silicon, too.  The other variant, Ontario, will have a 9W TDP and will go up against Intel's "Pine Trail" Atom platform in netbooks.

These APUs will be shipping to PC makers in the fourth quarter of the year, with Zacate-based systems slated to hit the market in the first quarter of 2011 and Ontario systems to follow.

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