While flashy PC CPUs have long grabbed most of the media attention, embedded CPUs have become an integral business for chipmakers like Intel. AMD has over the last decade become a critical competitor in this market, with designs like its Geode and 64-bit embedded Opteron chips.
Today AMD announced [press release] its latest and greatest state of the art embedded processor lineup, the G-Series, its answer to Intel’s 45 nm Sodaville and Tunnel Creek embedded processor lines.
Intel’s Sodaville is a single-core processor based on the Atom core commonly found in netbooks. It is perhaps best known as the processor powering Sony’s Internet TV. It features an on-die SGX535 GPU from PowerVR — the same GPU found in the iPhone. It is clocked at 1.2 GHz (Tunnel Creek models are clocked at 600 MHz to 1.3 GHz). Its GPU can only support OpenGL 2.0 and DirectX 10.1 Shader Model 4.1.
By contrast, AMD’s new line supports DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.0, and OpenCL. The units pack the Bobcat core, the same core design found in Brazos chips — AMD’s Fusion processor for laptops.
Whereas Intel currently does not offer dual-core embedded processor, AMD is offering both single-core and dual-core variants of its G-Series SoC. The various models, along with clock speeds and power consumption are seen below, direct from AMD:
The tradeoff seems to be the power consumption — Intel’s Sodaville cores only suck down 7 watts, versus at least 9 watts for the T4xR, T5xR, T4xN, and T5xN models. The dual core designs draw a whopping 18 watts (besides the lower clocked 1 GHz dual-core T40N).
The higher power consumption comes largely due to the clock speeds and graphical power. Given that power, it is actually somewhat low, thanks to the small 40 nm processor size.
The higher power requirements could be acceptable in exchange for the better graphics and processing power in some cases — such as in fancy casino machines, sales kiosks, or small-form factor PCs. AMD is showing of a demo unit on YouTube .
It is possible a processor like this could be used to drive next generation gaming handhelds. AMD spokeswoman Teresa Osborne tells us, “Next-generation gaming consoles are not currently a market where we have a design win with this new APU. That is not to say that the AMD G-Series wouldn’t be an excellent solution in that space. We do have considerable traction in markets like casino gaming, where the high-quality visual experience is increasingly important, along with reliability and security that benefit from the x86 solution.”
Another possible market AMD could expand into is the world of in-car graphics (such as the touch-screen displays found on the MyFord Touch Edge and upcoming Tesla Model S), as well. AMD’s spokeswoman tells us, “Some small form factor PCs referenced are in the area of miniaturized, fanless systems that are still providing the full consumer-class PC experience. These could be used in industrial environments, in vehicles, etc. for example.”
Patrick Patla, corporate vice president and general manager, Server and Embedded Division writes in the company’s press release, “AMD’s commitment is to ensure the game-changing technologies we develop for consumers and the enterprise are also available for the vast and growing embedded market. Today, we have a record number of embedded launch partners. They are using the unique advancements of the AMD Embedded G-Series APU to develop a brand new generation of highly differentiated, energy-efficient, small form-factor embedded systems that can deliver the vivid visual experience expected in our always-connected world.”
AMD is currently grappling with a leadership change (CEO Dirk Meyer was outed) and rushing to try to meet a mid-2011 launch of its more powerful upcoming Bulldozer architecture, aimed to compete with Sandy Bridge on desktops and high end laptops.
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