AMD's new Accelerated Processing Unit concept is a fusion of the tradition x86 processor core (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU). By bringing both the CPU and GPU together, many of the latencies of CPU to GPU communication can be reduced - plus both processing arrays can access the same data without having to copy it over slow or high latency system interconnects. AMD's purchase of ATI Technologies in 2006 was with the FUSION APU concept in mind.
AMD's first APU product is aimed for the mobility and small form factor space, and uses a brand-new x86 architecture codenamed Bobcat. You can read more about Bobcat here
, from Rage3D's coverage of HotChips 22 in 2010. Bobcat based APU's feature DirectX 11 graphics cores capable of GPGPU - compute processing using the massively parallel hardware inherent to AMD's GPU designs. Additionally, hardware video decoding is included for major codecs used in DVD, BluRay, BluRay 3D, DivX and Flash video. Nettop and netbook style devices based on AMD APU's offer extended battery life while preserving HD media consumption capabilities - 720P HD screens in 10" form factors are common for AMD Fusion APU netbooks and ultraportables.
APU's are also coming to the mainstream desktop space, with existing x86 technology cores from the Athlon II processor line up being combined with DirectX 11 GPU cores offering graphics capabilities well in excess of the current mainboard integrated graphics cores - and Intel's Sandy Bridge, too.
This processing power is not being used only for enhanced media consumption but also for application acceleration - AMD fusion APU's currently accelerate more than 50 popular titles
, with more on the way. This is made possible by AMD's support for hardware accelerated OpenCL using their GPU technology - an open standard that any vendor can benefit from using.
Future developments of the AMD Fusion APU concepts will bring far higher graphics and media performance to the basic desktop platform, as less power will be needed to deliver higher performance through the use of AMD Accelerate Application Processing. Software companies can leverage the advantage of AMD APP by using common and open standard technologies such as Microsoft's DirectCompute 5 (part of DirectX 11) and OpenCL.
The Fusion APU concept is a fundamental shift in thinking about what components are important for delivering the best user experience with low power and low cost, as well as outright top performance.
Athlough the future is fusion, AMD's new x86 architecture codenamed Bulldozer (for high performance desktops and servers) launching this year without integrated GPU's. This is widely predicted to be different in 2012, where the new Bulldozer+ cores will be mated with SIMD arrays to create high performance enthusiast parts for gamers and workstation users to use.
Extending the APU performance will be AMD CrossfireX technology, allowing scaling for suitable workloads from the integrated APU cores onto discrete add-in board cores, too.