AMD shields Fusion demo from Intel's spies

AMD won't let reporters take pictures of silicon wafer or view demonstration system

Advanced Micro Devices gave reporters a first look at its upcoming Fusion processors on Wednesday in a demonstration calculated to reveal as few specifics about the chips as possible, lest the information fall into the hands of rival Intel.

AMD is readying two versions of Fusion for release during the first half of 2011, a mainstream version called Llano and a low-power version called Ontario. Both chips are now available in sample quantities and customers are being shown working demos of the chips behind closed doors at the Computex exhibition in Taipei, said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's products group, at a news conference.

Bergman showed a demonstration of a "low-power" Fusion chip running a 3D game, without explicitly stating which version of Fusion was used in the demonstration. However, the prototype system used to run the demonstration was kept behind curtains and was not made visible to reporters.

The demonstration system wasn't the only sensitive item discussed during the presentation.

Bergman also showed off a silicon wafer filled with Fusion chips during his speech, but the company wouldn't let journalists take pictures of the wafer during a photo session held later. The reason for so much secrecy, according to one AMD executive, was the fear that a high-definition photo of the wafer would find it's way into the hands of Intel.

Such a photograph would reveal how many Fusion chips can be produced on a single wafer, offering some insight into manufacturing costs of the chip, the executive said.

"We're dealing with a different kind of competitor," he said, referring to Intel.

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