Graphics, Hardware

AMD "Llano" Fusion Socket Revealed: CPU and GPU Meet in One

Now that AMD has publicly announced that the Llano APU started shipping for revenue and will launch in the second quarter of 2011, even more information about AMDs upcoming chip gets revealed. For the first time, images of the new socket FM1, the CPU and a CPU-Z shot of the product got posted on the internet.

Socket FM1 - 905 holes will be the home for 905-pins featured on Llano APUs (CPU+GPU).Until now it is known that Llano will be based on the x86 core used in current K10.5 Athlon II / Phenom II / Opteron products and will feature up to 4 cores. The CPUs will feature a DDR3 memory controller with support up to DDR3-1866, which would amount to a peak bandwidth of almost 30GB/s. The interesting part of the chip is the integrated GPU based on AMD’s current HD 6000 generation. The GPU will feature up to 400 shader cores and is expected to be fit into HD 6400 and HD 6500 nomenclature, depending on features. Realistically, we’re talking about rebadged Radeon HD 5500 GPU (shrunk from 40nm to 32nm). Llano is manufactured as a monolithic die at the 32nm node at GlobalFoundries. There are reported to be models featuring 65W and 100W TDP.

For the first time the new socket format dubbed FM1 is depicted publicly. Based on our own analysis, it features 905 pins, which puts it slightly below current AMD desktop sockets, which all carry between 939 and 942 pins. Contrary to the competition, AMD still employs pin grid array (PGA) technology, while Intel uses land grid array (LGA) sockets on desktop platforms for almost a decade now.

The CPU is not recognized correctly in CPU-Z as the screenshot shows with the generic AMD logo, though some features are exposed. The engineering sample is clocked at 2.4GHz, which is a departure of the usual 1.8GHz samples AMD used to employ ever since the launch of the original K8-based Opteron back in 2003. The CPU features 4 cores, 1MB L2 cache per core and the same instruction set features as other CPUs of the K10.5 "Stars" generation. In order to make room for the GPU, AMD ditched the L3 cache.

AMD Llano APU Engineering Sample 2.4GHzThe Llano APU is set to compete in the mainstream desktop space, where peak CPU and GPU performance is not required, but a good balance of both is desireable. Llano is said to be capable to play games at decent ? albeit not high-end ? settings and deliver video acceleration for all commonly used codecs nowadays (except WebM). Its main competition is Intels current Core i3/i5/i7 lineup based on the Sandy bridge core, which features higher x86 performance but falls short in the graphics department. It’s going to be an interesting battle and we’re eager to see how AMD will market their advantage and cover their drawbacks.

In other news AMD announced together with Sony that their Fusion platform is fully supported in Sony Vegas Pro 10.0d. This is achieved by OpenCL support which means it can run on other manufacturers chips too, provided the required features are supported. Nevertheless this is a major step for AMD in the GPGPU arena. The new GPGPU programming model might be what AMD needs to make up for their shortcommings in general x86 performance.