AMD ships first Fusion chips for laptops, netbooks

Laptops and netbooks with AMD's Fusion chips will launch early next year

Advanced Micro Devices has started shipping units of the first low-power Fusion chips for use in consumer laptops and netbooks, a company official said on Tuesday.

The Fusion chips combine a graphics processor and CPU in one chip, which improves overall PC performance while drawing less power, said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager at AMD, at a conference for financial analysts.

Laptops based on the processors will be launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Bergman said. The laptops will provide up to 10 hours of battery life and be capable of playing 1080p high-definition video.

The company will initially ship two Fusion chips. The chip code-named Zacate consumes 18 watts of power and is targeted at mainstream laptops. Ontario, which draws 9 watts of power, is targeted at small and light laptops like netbooks. The chips will be available in single-core and dual-core variants, Bergman said.

The chips are based on the low-power Bobcat CPU core and integrate graphics processors capable of playing 1080p video. The chips are also compatible with DirectX 11, which provides a more realistic visual experience on PCs with the Windows 7 OS.

Bergman took a shot at Intel, saying, "Our competitors are out there talking about good-enough graphics. ... I don't know why good enough is good enough for graphics."

Intel in the past has been panned for its poor integrated graphics capabilities. The ability to play full high-definition video and compatibility with DirectX 11 in the chips should provide AMD a leg up over its rivals, Bergman said.

Intel, whose chips go into 80 percent of the world's computers, has already started production of its own chips based on the new Sandy Bridge architecture, which also include the CPU and graphics processor in a single chip. Laptops based on the chips are expected to start shipping early next year.

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