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Friday, 27 August 2010 11:25

The heart of AMD’s Llano is K8

Written by Fuad Abazovic
Fusion to fight Sandy Bridge with 6-year-old core
Bulldozer is one risky architecture for AMD. At the same time AMD is making its first 32nm CPU on an unproven, new and risky process and the company is making a completely new core, something that it hasn't done for years. When you do both of these things at once, you kind of have a recipe for potential disaster. AMD might get lucky this time and we're hoping that it will have more luck than with its transition to 65nm and the K10 native quad-core. As you probably remember, that transition was anything but smooth.

The most shocking report about the second-to-come Fusion is that the CPU core behind it is the venerable K8. The first Fusion features Bobcat, AMD's answer to the Atom and the Ontario notebook version of that first Fusion is expected early next year.

Let’s go back to the K8. The K8 officially came out on September 23rd 2003 and the first desktop part followed in early 2004. If you do the math this core is more than six years old, and it started at 130nm. Llano is 32nm which means that the transistor size shrunk multiple times and the power consumption went significantly down, but then again, the performance of K8 doesn’t look promising if you know that Llano is supposed to fight the Sandy Bridge monolithic cores. On a related note, this means that the good old K8's die area will be shrunk by a factor of 16 compared to the original chip which launched in 130nm. That's a quite simple way of illustrating the impressive benefits of more advanced production processes.

Sandy Bridge features Intel's second generation Core architecture, supports automatic overclocking and frequency adjustment for both CPU and GPU and K8 certainly doesn’t have that.

AMD might pull out an ace and actually tell the world at later date that the K8 core has been heavily modified and prepared for 2011, but we doubt that they can catch up with six years of CPU development. They simply don’t have enough engineers for that as most of them work on Bobcat and Bulldozer, which are entirely new chips.

Llano looks like a real transitional product that will prove investors that CPU and GPU on one core chip can be done, it will be faster in graphics tasks that Core i 2000 series aka Sandy Bridge. Of course, AMD is already working on the next generation Fusion that has something better than K8 inside. Let’s just say that Bulldozer can easily meet the Radeon 6000 graphics core and in 2012 you can get some decent performance part.

Do we need to remind you that this will be the third time that AMD tries to make Fusion work, just remember the original Fusion and later Swift cores that mysteriously disappeared form AMD's roadmaps. Fusion was promised back in 2006 and it still hasn't arrived.
Last modified on Friday, 27 August 2010 11:43
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+109 #1 Alexko 2010-08-27 11:57
Wow, this is such complete nonsense that I don't even know where to start.

So let's just focus on the two biggest mistakes:

— Llano is not based on K8, it is based on K10, and that has been public knowledge for a while. Why the hell would AMD go back to an older core, anyway? And it's not just K10, it's an improved version of it.
— Llano will feature Turbo, thanks to various on-die digital probes. Just like Sandy-Bridge. Again, public knowledge.
+79 #2 Bl0bb3r 2010-08-27 12:26
It was stated publicly by AMD's R Jotwani in an Q&A session that Llano 32nm will be on K10h found in the actual server platform of AMD.

Also on xbit: "Based on the die shot displayed by Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of AMD’s products group, the first Fusion processor from AMD will feature 4 x86 cores that resemble those of Propus processor"

Another bulls#it article by non other than fufy. FAIL!

Good thing there are other writers here otherwise this site would be a dump.
+63 #3 hellfire 2010-08-27 12:33
odd news. Even wikipedia knows that for about a year. And not K8 but "Stars" (meaning K10.5)
+64 #4 CRoland 2010-08-27 12:36
I have to agree with the first two posters. Also, it will likely be based on "K10.6" AKA Thuban and not the earliest K10 cores.
+64 #5 yourma2000 2010-08-27 12:39
I declare this article BULLSHIT! what's more is that this article doesn't even have a source, I won't even say "Nice try faud" because it clearly wasn't
+46 #6 FistOfGod 2010-08-27 12:50
Obviously news must be very slow today, huh, Fuad?
-56 #7 nele 2010-08-27 12:50
Hm, I think AMD said it was a K8 at hotchips or something... Or a conference call, not sure really.

It's a surprise, everyone was hoping for something quite a bit better, but that's what they apparently said.

A few other sites have already carried the news, but most failed to pick it up. Here's what bit-tech said a few days back:

"The AMD chaps did say that to call Llano merely a Phenom with a GPU bolted on 'underestimates the improvement to the uncore area. But the CPU core is K8.'"
+9 #8 anno 2010-08-27 13:03
Forgive me, I said a few things that may actually be wrong...
+13 #9 Bl0bb3r 2010-08-27 13:05
Quoting nele:
"The AMD chaps did say [...] 'underestimates the improvement to the uncore area [...]"


1. some AMD chaps vs managers with friggin Llano waffers in their hands

2. Phenom "underestimates" ??? That's like saying we made the K8 uncore perform a hell 'lot BETTER then current K10.5
-14 #10 nele 2010-08-27 13:40
Quoting Bl0bb3r:
Quoting nele:
"The AMD chaps did say [...] 'underestimates the improvement to the uncore area [...]"


1. some AMD chaps vs managers with friggin Llano waffers in their hands

2. Phenom "underestimates" ??? That's like saying we made the K8 uncore perform a hell 'lot BETTER then current K10.5

Don't quote me. I didn't say that, Chekib Akrout, the head of AMD's technology group did it.

I just went over the conference call instead of leaving early for Friday, so thanks guys. :-*

When Mike Magee asked which core would be used in Llano Arkout said: "The CPU for Llano Fusion is coming from our K8 processor, the previous core generation."

And I was looking forward to taking the piss out of Fudo over this... :lol:

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