AMD extends new Fusion chips to embedded systems

Following AMD Inc.’s announcement of its Fusion line of accelerated processing units (APUs) for PCs and notebooks in early January, the chip maker is now extending the technology to embedded systems while noting particular value to those makers of systems with rich visual components.


The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chip maker unveiled the Fusion chip, codenamed Brazos, at the Consumer Electronics Show several weeks ago that combines the CPU and GPU on a single piece of silicon. Wednesday’s announcement of the Embedded G-Series platform is the availability of the APU for manufacturers in the embedded space who build thin clients, point-of-sale, kiosks, medical imaging, casino gaming, digital signing and single-board computers.

John Fruehe, AMD’s director of product marketing for server and embedded technologies, said the processor’s performance and flexibility make it well suited to low-powered markets, which is why the APU is also headed for “non-traditional types of deployments” such as televisions and setup boxes for cable TV.

“You’re going to see some very interesting type solutions from very small form factor PCs to casino gaming type things,” said Fruehe.

A more traditional deployment for the APU is in medical imaging where the combined computational power of the CPU and GPU will mean greater depth of visibility and interpretation of x-rays.

“One of the biggest ways you bring down the cost (in health care) is by making doctors more accurate,” said Fruehe. “You make their predictions more accurate.”

Whether embedded systems are built on the nine- or 18-watt APU, the former being single core and the latter dual core, will depend on the particular use case. Regardless, Fruehe said the advantage to system manufacturers is the combination CPU/GPU works well with design cycles.

One embedded system manufacturer is planning to build products based on AMD’s new APUs. Nancy Patone, director of product marketing with Kontron Inc., said the company, which has an office in Montreal, will be building standard small form-factor systems such as single-board computers, computer-on-modules and embedded motherboards.

“We’re focusing on what we believe is the sweet spot for the technology which is small form-factor devices that need graphic intensity or real-time computing,” said Patone.

Patone said Kontron is “extremely excited” about the combination of CPU and GPU on a single chip because of the processing power envelope it will allow the systems the company builds.

The Embedded G-series is also designed for the typical three- to seven-year lifecycle of embedded systems, where makers of such systems will often demand that the silicon level and stock over the span of their product is maintained.

“The OEM for the application wants to be sure that they have good revision control and also in applications that require ruggedness. These are the kinds of situations where we see usage of these new technologies,” said Patone.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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