Meet the Brazos

The platform is called Brazos. Brazos encompasses two chips: a Zacate or Ontario APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) and the Hudson Fusion Controller Hub (FCH). This is the whole reason AMD bought ATI, Zacate and Ontario are its first CPU-GPU hybrids.

While AMD is primarily targeting the netbook/ultraportable and notebook markets with Ontario and Zacate (respectively), we’ll also see nettops/desktops and mini-ITX motherboards based on Brazos. This may be the first time we see real competition to NVIDIA’s ION platform.


AMD's Zacate APU, 19mm x 19mm package, 413 balls, 75mm^2 die

Both APUs are built from the same die. Zacate and Ontario are physically identical, they just run at different clock speeds. The 40nm die is manufactured at TSMC and measures 75mm^2. The chip is very cheap to package as well. The BGA package only has 413 balls. As one AMDer put it, these chips are designed to be stamped out as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

Both are available in single and dual core versions, although the single core variant is just a dual-core chip with one core disabled to hit various market segments. Core unlocking is apparently possible, but unexpected given the target for these platforms and the amount of effort OEMs would have to go to in order to enable it.

The CPU cores are based on AMD’s first truly low power client architecture, codenamed Bobcat. We’ve discussed Bobcat in great length already, but at a high level it looks a lot like an out-of-order Atom processor without Hyper Threading. The fundamental architecture advantage should give Bobcat the performance advantage over Atom, at least at identical clock speeds.

The GPU is based on AMD’s 5000 series architecture (Evergreen) and features 80 shader cores and AMD’s new UVD3 decode engine.

The SKUs

At launch you’ll see four SKUs, the combinations and specs are listed below:

AMD Brazos Lineup
APU Model Number of Bobcat Cores CPU Clock Speed GPU Number of GPU Cores GPU Clock Speed TDP
AMD E-350 2 1.6GHz Radeon HD 6310 80 500MHz 18W
AMD E-240 1 1.5GHz Radeon HD 6310 80 500MHz 18W
AMD C-50 2 1.0GHz Radeon HD 6250 80 280MHz 9W
AMD C-30 1 1.2GHz Radeon HD 6250 80 280MHz 9W

Zacate takes the top two SKUs, while Ontario makes up the bottom two. The difference in TDP is entirely based on the clock speed of the CPU and GPU. And here is my concern. While a pair of Bobcats running at 1.6GHz are just awesome, drop the clock to 1.0GHz and I start getting concerned about performance. AMD didn’t let us test the C-50 but I’m curious to see what the margin of victory will be over Atom at that speed.

The GPU runs at 500MHz at the high end (Radeon HD 6310) and 280MHz at the low end (Radeon HD 6250). This paired with the single channel DDR3-800/1066 memory bus that has to be shared with the Bobcat cores means you should expect sub-5450 levels of performance out of these systems. Given their price point, that’s potentially not too bad. More enticing however is the fact that these APUs gain the benefit of the driver work AMD does on its discrete cards. Finally, game compatibility should be just as good on the low end as it is on the high end - assuming you meet the minimum specs for the title you’re running.

The lack of a brand for the CPU is a bit puzzling, but graphics are where it’s at these days.

Introduction The Chipset err...Fusion Controller Hub
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  • meksta - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    So everyone besides Intel sits still? What a pointless comment. Reply
  • Dark_Archonis - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    What a pointless reply. Mino's reply assumes that Atom will remain in-order, which it will NOT. Atom will be redesigned for out-of-order in 2012. Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    For most of (if not all of) the Ontario market life Atom WILL remain in-order. That is a public information from Intel itself. Reply
  • sprockkets - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    why? Intel hates atom. It kills their higher margin CPUs. They want that for phones and tablets, not full blown PCs.

    If anything, AMD is the only reason Atom will improve. Heck, Intel's atom is so lame that on their own Meego platform, they can't even provide decent video drivers because the video card portion is 3rd party.

    Oh no! What will happen if someone like AMD or nvidia got their hands on their video tech through their open source drivers!
    Reply
  • Dark_Archonis - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Who said we were talking about "full blown PCs"? Obviously Atom is only meant for small devices like netbooks. Ontario Bobcats are aimed at a similar market.

    Also I fail to see how Intel "hates" Atom. Why would they develop it in the first place? Why would Intel be pushing Atom SoCs to market so hard? Your comment makes no sense.

    Intel LIKES Atom and they are trying to use Atom to take away some of ARM's marketshare.
    Reply
  • Dark_Archonis - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Future Atoms will be mostly SoC designs, while the Bobcat platforms are not. Zacate Bobcats will compete with Celeron and Pentium models anyways, not Atom. Ontario Bobcats will compete with Atoms. While Bobcat will have a per-clock advantage over Atom, it remains to be seen how Bobcat will perform when compared to Celeron and Pentium systems.

    We're not just talking about a 500 Mhz clock difference here though. The Intel Z560 Atom already runs at 2.13 Ghz, although it is a single core design. The Atom D525 dual core runs at 1.8 Ghz. That is a clock difference of 600-800 Mhz compared to the Ontario Bobcats.
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Calm down fanboi. Your quest is to protect your damsel Intel from harm to her reputation. We get it. Reply
  • krumme - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Atom D525 is 13W TDP, 87mm2 and more expensive packaging than zakate. Get the facts dude, zakate is cheaper than Atom and as you say near core 2 speed. Wellcome the the new wold. As zakate is cheaper than Atom, Intel can not use core i whatever or something more expensive, because they will loose tons of money doing so. Reply
  • Dark_Archonis - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Facts? Nice assumptions you have there. Can you show us all *FACTUAL* proof that Zacate is cheaper than Atom? If you can't, I would stop listing your assumptions as "facts". Reply
  • iwodo - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    He is referring to 87mm2 and 75mm2 die size. Smaller Die Size means Cheaper. Reply

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