20 June 2011
Aurelius Wosylus, regional sales manager for EMEA, Advanced Micro Devices
Chris Shaw discusses AMD's latest low power processors with Aurelius Wosylus.
With the third release of low power processors from AMD, the world of embedded designs has an innovative x86 alternative in the hotly contested market of small form factor designs. The latest versions of the AMD Embedded G-Series processors have, once again, been optimised for energy efficiency. How does the G-Series releases differ?
In early January 2011, we launched the world's first accelerated processing unit (apu) with the AMD Embedded G-Series with AMD Fusion technology. At Embedded World, we presented a processor without a graphics core and video unit especially for the demands of deeply embedded systems. Now we have launched two new apus with especially low TDP for systems which need both high performance graphics and optimal energy efficiency. The new low power dual core version requires a maximum of 6.4W and the single core version needs only 5.5W.
How do the two new processors differ from the first version?
The new apus have a significantly lower TDP than our first apus. We achieved this by optimising the production processes and internal structure, without restricting the scope of function or the performance. We know that there are three main requirements for embedded platforms: high performance, low power consumption and compact size. With the new apus we pass the advantages of our continuous technical development of current products on to customers as quickly as possible.
You keep talking about apu. But the combination of cpu and graphics is nothing new. What makes the AMD Embedded G-Series so special that you now have a new name for it?
APU stands for accelerated processing unit and means that – and this is unique in the embedded market – the integrated graphics can also take over computing tasks. GPGPU is a current trend in the desktop and high performance computing (hpu) area. In addition, we combine a programmable gpu with an efficient 64bit x86 cpu and a powerful video decoder unit on one integrated circuit. In this respect, customers get a one for all solution. This is of major interest for every embedded area. Multimedia applications and gaming benefit from the superior graphics and hd video performance of our apus. Computation intensive applications such as ultrasound devices, industrial image processing and measurement and signal processing can use the gpu as an efficient coprocessor for data processing. Standardised tools such as OpenCL and DirectCompute are already available for that.
As you just mentioned gpgpu: at the moment, this is rather limited to research projects or video compression. Are there already applications on the embedded market that use your apus for this task?
Outside of research, gpgpu is rather new when it comes to applications in mass production. However, our customers are working intensively on serial products. As with every new technology, it takes time to become broadly established. Of course, this also applies to the embedded market. With the AMD Embedded G-Series, we are bringing a high end technology across a large area onto the market, including for SFF designs, which can help significantly accelerate the spread of this technology. This is another major world premiere, even for innovative computer technology. Because here, too, the real innovations, such as the apus, are actually first introduced to the 'upper level', before making their way into the mainstream. For example, multicore technology was first introduced in more cost intensive, high end projects. With the AMD Embedded G-Series, we are jumping straight into the embedded mass market. This way, all OEMs can draw up their applications based on this new technology using standardized software tools.
Products are one thing, service is something else. What is AMD doing to ensure the success of the AMD Embedded G-Series?
Quite a lot. For example, at Embedded World, we expanded our AMD Fusion Partner Program for the embedded market with the Systems and Technology Track. With that, we offer our embedded partners a complete ecosystem of tools, training, and technical resources that help them to be successful in the current competitive environment of the embedded market. In the field of design support, for example, we have developed a comprehensive Reference Design Kit (rdk) in order to help shorten the development times for storage and media servers for use in small and medium sized offices and in home offices. It includes completely tested circuit diagrams and layout source files, so that companies can focus their valuable development resources on product differentiation for their customers. We offer other support through our commitment to open source software. For example, we have provided our source code to the open source bios project Coreboot. Coreboot is responsible for the initialisation of the hardware and boot logic of Microsoft Windows and Linux based systems, which is especially relevant for embedded systems on which proprietary or non-traditional operating systems are to be used.
One particular selling point for the AMD Embedded G-Series is the graphics unit. Isn't a G-Series version without a graphics unit a contradiction?
No, absolutely not. First, of course, you make the most of your strengths. And in integrated graphics performance we are one of the performance leaders in the field with the AMD Embedded G-Series, even among significantly larger and faster embedded platforms. But since our graphics unit can also be used in applications for parallel computation, for example in software defined radios, which do not require graphics output, it is only logical to also offer a purely headless solution. In addition, an extremely powerful and energy efficient 64bit cpu is integrated into the AMD Embedded G-Series processor. With the headless G-Series processors, we now offer the advantages of x86 technology for low power embedded systems which do not require graphics. Thus applications such as m2m Box pcs, soft PLCs, storage solutions, and network appliances, like industrial routers and firewalls, now also have the chance to benefit from the high connectivity, compatibility, and extensive software and hardware ecosystem of x86 technology. And all without the overhead of an integrated graphics unit. And with the AMD Embedded G-Series, users receive a processor platform that they can use homogeneously anywhere on the shop floor. From machine control to HMI to process visualisation in the control room. So here, this is a logical step.
And how is the demand? I know that you received the Embeddy Award from market researcher, VDC, but what do the customers say?
If you look at the list of embedded manufacturers who already offer finished board and system designs, then we are talking about an especially successful market launch for new processor technologies. With customers such as Compulab, Fujitsu, Kontron, congatec, and Quixant, our AMD Embedded G-Series platform already has a broad customer base. And new customers are steadily being added. We are very satisfied and are continually expanding our embedded services and our product portfolio for these customers.