SAN JOSE, Calif. – Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) is planning to attack the embedded systems market with its first single-chip system-chips (SoCs).
AMD has served the embedded market for many years but has focused on the high-end where its x86 instruction set and graphics processors could show a performance benefit over microcontrollers. That does not change with the launch of the x86-based G-series SoC but there are indications that AMD wants to address a broader embedded market than it has before as the Internet of Things starts to become a growth and volume driver.
The company is launching the G-series SoC at the DESIGN West Exhibition and conference in San Jose, California, which is organized by UBM Tech, the publisher of EE Times. AMD is planning to put out a power-optimized version of its G-series SoC later this year and it is also expected that AMD will embrace the ARM architecture for embedded applications.
But the first AMD G-series SoC includes a quad-core x86 processor based on the "Jaguar" 64-bit core, the Radeon 8000 graphics processor and an I/O hub that covers such I/O links as SATA, USB 2.0., DisplayPort and PCIe Generation 2. The chip also includes 2-Mbyte of shared memory in L2 cache. The chip is being implemented in 28-nm CMOS technology. Effectively the chip is sufficiently powerful to drive tablet computers but is targeted at industrial and embedded applications.
With regard to AMD's embedded position and ARM, Arun Iyengar, general manager of Embedded Solutions at AMD, said: "We're going to have both architectures. The G-series SoC happens to be x86 based." Iyengar declined to say which foundry was making the chip for AMD but said the company was pleased to have both Globalfoundries Inc. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. as foundries.
Besides bringing the I/O hub on-chip the G-Series SoC provides a number of steps up in performance over the established dual-core G-Series APU. CPU performance is doubled and GPU performance improved by 20 percent. The package foot print reduction is about 33 percent as the design goes from two chips to one and the design offers superior performance per watt in a similar thermal design profile. The operational temperature range has also been extended to the industrial range of -40 to +85 degrees centigrade.
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Comparison of AMD's embedded APU based on the "Bobcat" core and embedded SoC based on the "Jaguar" core. Source: AMD.
The G-series comes in five variants. These cover two speed grades and with two or four x86 cores and a version with four x86 cores but with the graphics disabled for applications that do not need the graphics.
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AMD G-series SoC comes in two, four core and graphics-less variants.