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Computex 2015: a chat with AMD on HBM, Fiji and the future

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Andreas Schilling

amd radeon 2013During Computex 2015 we had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Lisa Su, AMD's CEO. The talk focused on the recently launched sixth generation "Carrizo" APUs and a general view of what will happen in the coming weeks, months and years. We here refer to the presentation of the "Fiji" GPU on 16 June, which will take place in Los Angeles and will be broadcast via live stream.

Carrizo, K12 und Zen

AMD developed "Carrizo" from the start for mobile applications. However, the CPU will continue to be manufactured in the 28 nm process by Globalfoundries, leading one to ask to what degree its efficiency has been improved. The 28 nm process is made efficient by changes to the design. AMD will continue to use standard manufacturing process technologies and continue to contract GolbalFoundries for APUs,  and TSMC for GPUs. AMD itself isn't involved in developing the manufacturing processes has.

Lisa Su also provided more information on the development of K12 and Zen. Both K12 and Zen are on schedule and the first products can be expected in the coming year.

Dr. Lisa Su, CEO of AMD
Dr. Lisa Su, CEO of AMD

High Memory Bandwidth

HBM will initially be a pure high-end product. AMD has been working with SK Hynix on the technology, and 18 months ago it made the decision to use HBM in a concrete product. AMD not only collaborated with SK Hynix for HBM, but also with many other market leading companies in areas such as interposer technology. AMD believes the early investment and launch of products with HBM will be beneficial in the end, as the company has already gained experience  while others are still stuck in the planning run-up to HBM. This must of course be understood as a hint towards NVIDIA's "Pascal" architecture. Depending on demand, HBM can and should be introduced into other product categories. However, no specific details were provided. Again, high-end products in the HPC field are the most conceivable.

Future prospects

Dr. Lisa Su has great confidence the next generation GPU will be a success and be able to compete with its competitor's products. This fits the claim made when announcing 16 June as the launch date for "Fiji". AMD stated HBM gave it the chance to develop the world's fastest GPU on the market. The development of VR is seen as a further boost for the graphics card market in 2016 and beyond.

AMD has no specific R&D budget, i.e. doesn't spend a fixed percentage rate for research and development. When asked what investment currently is most critical for AMD, Lisa Su answered that high-performance CPUs are AMD's largest investments and the efforts made for such CPUs inevitably have to be a success.