Event Coverage

The Fusion Era Begins - AMD Asia Pacific Fusion Tech Day

By Vincent Chang - 26 Jan 2011

AMD Fusion Lands in Asia Pacific

AMD Fusion Lands in Asia Pacific

Playing host to AMD's Fusion world tour was Singapore's Shangri-La hotel, where AMD executives and its OEM partners set about impressing the Asia Pacific media about the industry-changing impact of its new Fusion APU. It was also a great opportunity for us to check out some of the new, upcoming Fusion powered devices coming your way, from notebooks to nettops and even barebones systems.

AMD executives posing with Sony's new VAIO YB series, powered by AMD's Fusion APU.

Since we already covered the Fusion APU architecture in some detail here and also tested some of the mini-ITX Fusion motherboards, we aren't going to repeat ourselves. To sum up what AMD Fusion is all about: it's a new class of processors, dubbed Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) that combine a dual-core x86 processor, a DirectX 11-capable, entry-level discrete graphics engine and dedicated hardware for HD video playback. All on a single die design.

Currently, there are two series available, the E-Series (Zacate) which has a higher 18W TDP and the C-Series (Ontario), which has a 9W TDP. There are both single and dual-core variants, for a total of four APU models. As you can tell from its relatively low TDP, these APUs are targeted at the mobile space and other low-power devices and form the Brazos platform. The mainstream variants, the 32nm A-Series APUs, also known as Llano, will have more cores and better discrete-class graphics onboard. They will be launched in Q1 2011, with products appearing in the middle of the year.

Saving its best for the last, AMD also had a surprise for the media, teasing us with its upcoming dual-GPU Radeon HD 6990. This monster of a graphics card is expected to succeed AMD's Radeon HD 5970 at the top of the GPU hierarchy.

AMD's Matt Skynner, Corporate VP and General Manager of its GPU division, instantly got the attention of all the media when he teased us with AMD's upcoming monster GPU, the dual GPU Radeon HD 6990.

It's really long....we don't exactly have a ruler or anything else to compare, but let's just say it's close to the length of a forearm. The single blower fan looks tiny in comparison.

With just a single DVI output, you better have a display with mini Display Port, or at least an adapter if multi monitors are required. We wonder how many displays can this card drive....12?

The two GPU cores are exposed at the other side of the PCB. There's also only a single connector for CrossFireX, but with two GPUs on a single card, that's reasonable.

A 6-pin and 8-pin pair of power connectors on the Radeon HD 6990.

The frontal view of the Radeon HD 6990.

With the cool teaser out of the way, we'll shift focus back on some of the more interesting Fusion products showcased at the show and what you can expect to see quite soon:-

The microATX ASUS E35M1-M PRO comes with an AMD E-350 Zacate APU onboard, a PCIe 2.0 x16 slot for discrete graphics and two PCI slots for more add-on cards.

This ECS HDC-I mini-ITX board is similar to the ones we have seen from ASRock, Gigabyte and MSI.

It's only a small step from having the mini-ITX boards to building a complete barebones system like this PowerColor Mini PC. Small and light, not to mention quiet, it's suitable as a media center system.

Zotac too has a mini PC system that's ready to grace your living room, especially with its Blu-ray drive and AMD Fusion innards.

As shown at CES, MSI's Brazos based Wind Top, the 20-inch AE2050.

Fujitsu too has an AIO powered by a dual-core Zacate. The 20-inch Esprimo EH300 comes with the AMD APU along with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD. Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit is installed.

The 10.1-inch Acer Aspire One 522 is similar to Acer's previous Intel Atom netbook design outwardly, but it's powered by AMD's Ontario (1GHz) APU instead.

Fujitsu's 11.6-inch Brazos notebook is the Lifebook PH521, with 2GB of RAM, a 320GB HDD and a 6-cell battery to complement its dual-core 1.6GHz APU.

One of the earlier AMD Brazos powered notebooks to reach the market, HP's dm1z has been getting decent reviews and we hope that it lives up to our expectations.

Lenovo too has a Thinkpad powered by AMD's Fusion APU. The X120e is targeted at the entry level ultra-portable segment, with its light weight and decent battery life matched with a price point starting from US$399.

Zacate too is powering the MSI U270, which has a 1366 x 768 display, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB HDD.

And who says that the Fusion APU is only meant for smaller notebooks? MSI certainly has bigger plans for it, putting a Zacate APU inside the 15.6-inch CR650.

Available in at least three colors (that we saw), Sony has adopted AMD Fusion for its VAIO YB series. You'll get a 11.6-inch notebook with a starting price of US$549 for Windows 7 Home Premium, 2GB of RAM and a 320GB HDD.

Toshiba has decided to outfit its Fusion notebook, the NB550D, with Harmon Kardon speakers. We actually managed to get a decent amount of sound from this small machine.

Given the number of new models shown here (and some not), AMD's Fusion APUs appear to be off to a good start. With any luck, we'll have a chance to test some of these notebooks, many of which will be available in retail in February. Will their battery life match AMD's claims of up to 10 hours (under certain conditions)? We are keeping our fingers crossed.