AMD Gives Brazos a BoostAugust 22, 2011
Author: Kevin Krewell
AMD has had sound success with its first Fusion processor with integrated graphics, shipping over 10 million units since its first shipments in late 2010. But the company is not resting on its laurels: it is giving the Brazos platform, which includes the Fusion E-Series and C-Series, a midlife boost with slightly faster clock speeds, additional dual-core versions, and improved video support.
The new premier E-Series notebook processor is now the E-450, replacing the E-350. The E-450 adds support for DDR3-1333 memory (up from the E-350’s DDR3-1066) and AMD Turbo Core technology, which can dynamically increase clock frequency; also, the CPU clock speed gets a largely imperceptible bump from 1.6GHz to 1.65GHz. Turbo Core was previously only available in the A-Series (Llano) processors. The low end of the E-Series also gets a boost, as the single-core 1.5GHz E-240 is replaced by the 1.3GHz dual-core E-300. Furthermore, AMD gave the E-Series an improved HDMI 1.4a port to support 3D video. The desktop versions of the E-Series, intended for small-form-factor designs, get exactly the same upgrades. The company made all these changes without increasing the family’s thermal design power (TDP) of 18W.
The new C-Series mobile processor is the C-60, which replaces the C-50. The C-60 base specs are identical to those of the C50, but the new processor can push the nominally 1.0GHz CPU up to 1.33GHz and the on-chip GPU from 276MHz to 400MHz when it has sufficient thermal headroom. The C-60 throttles back to 1GHz when it reaches the 9W thermal limit. This mode does not offer the same flexibility as the Turbo Core mode in the E-450, however. The only remaining single-core processor in the C-Series is the low-end 1.2GHz C-30.
These changes are not large, but they strengthen the company’s positioning of these processors between Intel’s Atom and Core processors. The Brazos graphics processor already handily beats Atom by supporting the more advanced DirectX 11 API, whereas Intel’s chip still only supports DirectX 9. In addition, the Brazos CPU core (Bobcat) offers out-of-order execution versus Atom’s in-order core.
The increases in the Brazos clock frequency and the reduction in single-core variants likely resulted from yield improvements in TSMC’s 40nm process. Overall, the refresh provides Brazos with a nice performance and feature boost that doesn’t negatively affect the family’s power envelope.