Tuesday, 12 June 2012

AMD Answers Intel Xeon, Opteron Trinity APU Comes in Q4 2012?

Even though the AMD Fusion Developer Summit i.e. AFDS 2012 hasn’t even started, we managed to confirm that AMD is coming with something really special - an answer to Intel’s APU efforts. Our typically precise sources told us that AMD is preparing an Opteron branded lineup based on the Trinity APU. All models will utilize the FM2 processor socket, identical to the one utilized on consumer platforms (Llano and Trinity are not mutually compatible).

There are some changes in the memory controller, however, as the Opteron APU models support ECC memory, but on consumer dies that option is disabled by default – no silicon re-spin was necessary for this move (at least our sources did not imply so). Besides the Opteron brand name for the CPU, we expect to see the GPU being rebranded as the FirePro 3D i.e. company’s official branding for commercial/professional market.

AMD Architecture Roadmap from the silicon standpoint

As we all know, Intel launched its 'P' Series of graphics, i.e. a Core CPU with HD X000 graphics would become a Xeon processor with PX000 graphics. Not to be outdone on the entry-level workstation market, during the financial results call AMD CEO Rory Read announced that the company will react with products that customers want, especially ones based on the Trinity APU die.

We've long suspected that AMD made a capital error by not being able to deliver nine million Llano APUs to Apple, where the MacBook Air and iMac were supposed to carry Fusion / Radeon branded APUs, while MacBook Pro was supposed to carry Opteron / FirePro branded part. However, previous management made a major error and in turn, Apple just announced that the company abandoned AMD products for a combination of Intel Ivy Bridge processors and NVIDIA Kepler GPUs.

That error has now been remedied. You can expect Trinity-based Opterons coming to market in the second half of this year in workstations from the usual suspects (HP, Supermicro and others…). This time around it looks like GlobalFoundries had no problems with the 32nm yields.

According to our sources, AMD is not stopping just with the Opteron APUs. Next in line will be Kaveri APU, which will be the base for Opteron APUs at the end of 2013. The difference in availability between Opteron and Fusion A-Series branded products will be the time needed to optimize the GPU drivers, i.e. we expect to see Opteron APU debuting at the same time as FirePro. When it comes to FirePro, we wonder when AMD will finally release the FirePro cards based on the Southern Islands architecture... the current line-up is still based on Evergreen and Northern Islands.

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