updated 07:19 pm EST, Wed January 9, 2013
Chips aimed at portable devices
AMD reiterated details surrounding its 2013 APU lineup at CES, where Electronista sat down with company executives to learn more about the company's strategy and try out several devices that integrate the latest chips. The system-on-a-chip (SOC) families include Temash, geared for tablets; Kabini, optimized for ultrathin notebooks; Richland, built to optimize performance and battery life; and Kaveri, the top performer with Steamroller CPU cores.
In the tablet arena, the company is attempting to bridge the glaring gap between chips that have been essentially taken from smartphones, and chipsets that were designed primarily for notebook computers. This is where Temash fits in, as a low-power processor that is claimed to be the highest-performance tablet SoC on the market. Doubling the graphics performance over its predecessor, Temash appears to be well suited to Windows 8 tablets used for gaming, entertainment or productivity tasks.
We took a look at an 11.6-inch prototype tablet powered by a Temash chip, and the hardware is certainly promising. As 1920x1080 becomes the industry standard for tablet displays, and applications demand more power, AMD's graphics heritage could give the company an edge as it works to gain traction in the tablet market.
Intel and ARM chips currently power most Windows 8 tablets, however many of the Intel-based devices have difficulty driving games and other graphics-intensive content without dropping the frame rate. AMD also has an opportunity to bridge the price gap between Intel and ARM tablets, though we'll likely have to wait until the second half of the year to find out.
Aside from Temash, AMD is positioning itself to be a competitor in the ultrabook market with its Kabini, Richland and Kaveri chips. Kaveri will serve as the top performer in the notebook segment, or a mainstream offering for desktops. The company has continued to improve its architecture to squeeze more processing and graphics performance out of the chips, while minimizing power draw.
The first Tamesh, Kabini and Richland devices are expected to ship in the first half of the year, ahead of a Kaveri launch later in the year.