Four years after buying graphics chipmaker ATI, AMD shows the goods at Computex: called Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), these new chips which merge CPU and GPU are supposed to save power and cost (according to AMD) although it doesn’t seem to us like they would generate any groundbreaking savings on both counts. A few months ago, Intel has shown that it too had embedded a graphics chip to a CPU.
That said, AMD’s Fusion is superior to Intel’s CPU/GPU hybrid graphics, and APUs are able to also perform general purpose computing to help the main processor, if apps support it – not all CPU/GPU hybrid are created equal. It would be a *real* game changer if developers were starting to rely on having another set of processing units inside every AMD processors (I suspect that AMD will pay select devs to do it…). For that, the APUs need to support DirectCompute and/or OpenCL, two standards that Intel’s graphics solution doesn’t support now.
Before you get too excited, don’t forget that APUs are “just” integrated graphics, even if AMD tries really hard to make them cool. They embed much fewer sub-processors than their “add-on” counterparts, and therefore the raw power is much less. We’ll have to wait for the details and independent numbers before deciding if this is going to be useful in the short-term. (photo courtesy of Trusted Reviews)