AMD reveals high-end 'Carrizo' APU, the first chip to fully embrace audacious HSA tech


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With AMD's processors still stuck on an aging 28nm manufacturing process, it needs some innovation to catch up to Intel—and the company thinks it has the elements to do so with "Carrizo," a high-end integrated chip that the company will debut in 2015.

AMD said that Carrizo and a derivative, Carrizo-L, will debut sometime in 2015. AMD disclosed the new additions at an event in Singapore on Thursday, adding that it will reveal more details—presumably speeds and price—in the first half of 2014.

Carrizo will be fully HSA 1.0 compliant, meaning that it will deliver on the Heterogenous Systems Architecture that AMD has talked about for some time. With HSA, the GPU can also be tapped to perform compute functions, which the company claims will deliver far more performance than the speed increases from moving to finer CPU manufacturing technologies alone. Intel, of course, is moving to its second-generation 14nm processor technology with upcoming chips like the Core M.

In June, AMD launched Kaveri, a family of what it called its first enthusiast-class APUs. Kaveri's CPU cores are based on AMD's "Steamroller" microarchitecture, while its GPU cores use the same architecture as AMD's Hawaii-class discrete graphics processors (dubbed Graphics Core Next). The “Carrizo” processor will integrate the new x86 CPU core codenamed “Excavator” with next generation AMD Radeon graphics, while the Carrizo-L derivative will use the Puma+ core and AMD Radeon R-Series GCN GPUs for mainstream configurations, AMD said.

amd carrizo presentation AMD

AMD is trying everything it can to diminish the fundamental advantages Intel's manufacturing technology brings. Its latest efforts include Mantle, a write-to-the-metal API that allows game makers to eke out performance advantages with AMD-specific instructions. Capcom was the latest developer to use Mantle, and Samsung also said it would take advantage of AMD's FreeSync technology and build a range of 4K monitors using it.

AMD also said that it would commit to slashing the power used by its chips by 25 times by 2020. Earlier this week, Intel reorganized its processor groups by combining its mobile and desktop design teams, signalling a vaguely similar commitment.

“We continue to innovate and build upon our existing IP to deliver great products for our customers,” said John Byrne, senior vice president and general manager, Computing and Graphics business group, AMD, in a statement. “AMD’s commitment to graphics and compute performance, as expressed by our goal to improve APU energy efficiency 25x by 2020, combines with the latest industry standards and fresh innovation to drive the design of the 2015 AMD Mobile APU family.We are excited about the experiences these new APUs will bring and look forward to sharing more details in the first half of next year.”

Why this matters: AMD needs every edge to get itself back in the race with Intel, and it's been aggressively exploiting what it can. The question is whether the new Excavator cores will offer performance that can compete with what Intel has to offer, as well as a profit margin that will keep it in the game.

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