AMD, ATI promise unified architecture in 2008

Written by Brett Thomas

July 24, 2006 | 15:33

Tags: #2008 #architecture #bios #chipset #cpu #drivers #gpu #platform #system #torrenza #unified

Companies: #amd #ati

Let's keep the presses rolling: First, AMD and ATI formally announced their merger intents. Then, Intel ripped the carpet out from under ATI on the chipset front.

Now, AMD and ATI have announced their intentions for unified development by 2008 - this is quite forward thinking, considering that AMD and ATI are not one until ATI's share holders approve the deal.

The discussion all hinges from a slide AMD and ATI made about the benefits of the merger, which illustrates the move towards a "unified system" where chips can just be plugged in to meet various needs. The slide is a bit ambiguous, but it illustrates CPUs and GPUs being able to talk to one another very closely, and in differing quantities depending on needs.

This architecture design is very reminiscent of AMD's Torrenza technology proposed last year, which stressed very low latencies between core components like CPU, chipset, and RAM. The idea was to make the board able to handle other chips as coprocessors, like a GPU or maybe even physics. Initially, these coprocessors were to be built right into CPUs, though the possibility of seperate add-on chips has not ever been ruled out.

Speaking of GPUs, AMD have recently made their first GPU related patent, a move that helped to send up some flags for the merger weeks ago. The patent is for CPU and GPU on the same chip with an integrated, shared cache. This is a bold step much in line with the Torrenzo plan, and with ATI now able to work on the project openly, we can only guess that it will work pretty well.

There is no word as to the target market for the product at the moment, and we can expect that it will take a little while before the tech gets powerful enough to handle demanding graphics like games without heat issues. But even so, it's nice to dream of a graphics setup that removes any latency of the northbridge from the equation...

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