AMD 6th Generation A-Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU)
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) designs component processors for high-performance computing, immersive technology and datacenters. It and other semiconductor companies have long benefited from Moore’s Law, the doubling of the number of transistors on a chip about every two years as manufacturing technology advances allow for smaller and smaller transistors, and smaller computer chips. Historically, each smaller generation of these chips would consume fewer resources while providing ever greater performance. However, the near clockwork improvements derived from Moore’s Law have slowed substantially in recent years. This stems from the fact that the miniaturization of transistors is now bumping against physical limits, affecting the design parameters of processors. As transistors get smaller, leaking power current becomes a greater engineering challenge because transistor threshold voltages have been reduced to the point where the devices don’t completely shut off. This breakdown in Dennard scaling has resulted in higher power consumption for the highly integrated, high-performance devices that consumers need in medical, research, financial and other critical industries. Even so, AMD is on track to achieve a stretch goal to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of its microprocessors by 25 times from a 2014 baseline—a fundamental part of the company’s business strategy called the 25×20 Initiative. In 2015, AMD released the 6th Generation A-Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), codenamed “Carrizo”. Carrizo consumes substantially fewer natural resources both in production and in use compared to its predecessor, resulting in a much smaller impact on the environment. This achievement is a result of intense engineering work that led to innovations including a new memory architecture, power efficient silicon to optimize voltage and reduce power consumption, high density libraries to reduce travel paths and reduce electrical leakage from the circuits, and intelligent power management that dynamically adjusts power in response to the tasks being run. When taken together, Carrizo achieved a 2.4 times increase in energy efficiency compared to the previous product. And significantly, upgrading to Carrizo from the previous product results in a 46 percent reduction in life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, based on a three-year service life. AMD has seen increasing momentum for the Carrizo 6th gen APU, especially for laptop computers. This is evident based on new design wins with technology manufacturers (OEMs), new large-scale commercial deployments, and the growing adoption of AMD technology that improves the visual experience during video playback and gaming. The new Carrizo processor offers all-day battery life, and excellent performance. As always, there is extreme competitive pressure in the computer market for new processors that provide even greater performance while minimizing power consumption. This is made more challenging due to the slowdown in Moore’s Law. Gains that once were largely a byproduct of manufacturing gains now must be augmented with advanced engineering and a total company commitment. Further gains will come from improvements in semiconductor architecture and innovative power management, as well as manufacturing process optimization. These gains will be embodied through new processor generations that will be released by AMD over the next several years, and with even greater energy efficiency improvements. With product releases on the company’s roadmap, AMD is on track for achieving the goal to improve APU energy efficiency 25 times between 2014 and 2020, that will lead to new and immersive digital experiences while at the same time limiting energy use and environmental impact.