Graphics, Hardware

AMD to "Kill" APU in 2012; Move to SOC with 28nm Krishna and Wichita


Even though AMD has only recently released its APU design onto the market, the leaked roadmap slides from Donanim Haber, a well-known Turkish website (which is more and more starting to become "AMD Leak Central") reveals that the APU, or Accelerated Processing Unit is not going to stay with us for a long period of time.

AMD Fusion Roadmap for 2012: 32nm Trinity will be made by GlobalFoundries, while 28nm Krishna and Wichita come out of TSMC
AMD Fusion Roadmap for 2012: 32nm Trinity will be made by GlobalFoundries, while 28nm Krishna and Wichita come out of TSMC

Instead of being a long-term architecture, APU with its CPU, GPU and memory controller bolted together will only fly for a generation or two, before AMD releases a fully-blown SOC (System-on-a-Chip) design. With the low-power Bobcat core, which targets entry-level computing devices such as tablets, netbooks and low-end notebooks and desktops, the APU-to-SOC shift is going to happen with the second generation already.

AMD Krishna and Wichita SOC designs
AMD Krishna and Wichita SOC designs: Future C-, E- and Z-Series APUs, all fitting inside the 18W TDP bracket. You can expect further decreases, to the tune of 8W and 16W SOC designs, even though Krishna and Wichita incorporate more parts in silicon

The 2012 platform is codenamed "Deccan" and will consist out of Krishna and Wichita processors (successors of Ontario and Zacate, the current C-, E- and Z-Series APUs). Both designs will be manufactured using 28nm process over at TSMC, featuring up to four Bobcat cores, up to 2MB of L2 cache and naturally, a support for Turbo core mode.

Both Wichita and Krishna will pack 25% boost in graphics processing department, with the GPU design being brought up to Northern Islands standard, supporting UVD 3 with Secure Asset Management Unit (SAMU) and further improvements to multimedia standards (read: hardware acceleration for more codecs and technologies such as stereoscopic 3D).

The big change is the SOC part of the silicon: Yuba Fusion Controller Hub is moving onto the APU silicon, making these parts first SOC designs coming out of AMD stable.

Yuba FCH supports single PCIe x16 and four x1 ports, DVI, HDMI and Analog VGA, SATA 6Gbps, HD Audio, USB (dedicated 2.0 and 3.0 ports) legacy PCI, LPC and SPI. As you can imagine, all of these changes cannot fit inside the current Socket FM1, which is the main reason why Wichita and Krishna will utilize Socket FM2 in a discrete or embedded (BGA – Ball Grid Array) form factor.

It is expected that Trinity, the 32nm Bulldozer-based APU will continue to use Socket FM1 and evolve from APU to a SOC design in 2013.

Late 2012 and early 2013 are shaping up to be the time of SOC: 22nm Intel Atom Z Series, 28 and 32nm AMD Fusion, NVIDIA Project Denver, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8974, TI OMAP5 and many more.

To us, it looks that AMD has the upper hand, with NVIDIA’s ability to surprise. Qualcomm Snapdragon 8974 slipped by more than two quarters and naturally, Intel can always come in with 22nm Medfield and wipe the floor with unconcerned competition.