CHIP DESIGNER AMD has said that accelerated processor units (APUs) need to have a balance between CPU and GPU performance.
AMD recently launched its Trinity APU for laptops following last year's highly successful Llano APU, however the chip was praised and lambasted in almost equal measure due to its relatively poor performing CPU being mated to an impressive GPU. Now AMD has told The INQUIRER that APUs need to have a balance of CPU and GPU performance, with CPU performance remaining a vital part of overall performance.
When Neal Robinson, senior director of Consumer Developer Support at AMD was asked whether AMD viewed the GPU as the more important part of its APUs he told The INQUIRER, "I would never say it was more valuable than a CPU because there certain tasks that CPU is clearly better at than a GPU. Let's be very careful, we don't want to write off the CPU because there's a lot of functionality there that we absolutely need."
Robinson continued, "The key is the balance between the two cores. Balance between the two [CPU and GPU], not just some monstrous GPU and very little CPU or a monstrous CPU and very little GPU. To me it makes sense to have that balance."
Robinson, who works with developers to harness the GPU in AMD's Llano and Trinity chips, also said that appreciable future performance gains in CPUs will only come from harnessing the compute capabilities of GPUs. "You're looking at incremental increases from generation to generation, from [Intel's] Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge, the CPU advances aren't really significant enough to have that reflected in application performance, at least not to the level that a consumer would be able to see. Measuring [a] 15 per cent increase in performance - most consumers can't really see that or even understand that - so that is where changing the way we address application development by looking at heterogeneous compute makes so much more sense," said Robinson.
AMD's desktop Trinity parts are still some ways off, but the firm desperately needs to address the imbalance that exists in its Llano APUs in terms of CPU and GPU power. While Robinson is working with developers to make better use of the GPGPU capabilities in the firm's APUs, the fact is that most applications still rely heavily on the CPU, and even though Robinson claims users might not see a 15 per cent performance difference, the big system builders certainly can when evaluating what hardware to put into systems. µ
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