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AMD ponders tablet sector entry

Chip maker announces two-year roadmap that will enable it to enter tablet segment

AMD ponders tablet sector entry
AMD says the market will not see an AMD APU running at two watts or less until 2014.

Chip maker AMD has set its product development course for the next two years and revealed its plans for low-power servers, new system-on-a-chip products, and a hope of moving all desktop and notebook processors to 28-nm architectures.

But lurking somewhat in the background was AMD's two-year plan for its long-awaited entry into the tablet market, which has been a point of concern for the struggling chip maker.

AMD said it plans to make its debut in the tablet PC space this year with the launch of an ultra-low power accelerated processing unit (APU) dubbed Hondo and, as previously announced, will also introduce its new Trinity APUs designed for ultra-thin laptops. But despite having a detailed, mobility-focused APU roadmap, not all system builders are convinced of AMD's ability to compete in a space already claimed by Intel and ARM. In the tablet space, however, AMD might not be able to play that same card.

John Taylor, director, Global Product Marketing, AMD, said Hondo, the company's first-generation ultra-low power APU slated for release this year, won't have a power consumption design suitable to run a tablet as thin as an iPad, which is about two watts. Instead, Taylor explained that Hondo will most likely run in convertible tablets or tablets with thicker form factors.

"Think of a somewhat thicker tablet form factor or a convertible form factor that's sometimes just a tablet and sometimes has some kind of a keyboard attached," Taylor said. "It'll be sealed or passively cooled."

Temash, the next ultra low-power APU on AMD's roadmap set to launch in 2013, will still run at about three or four watts, Taylor added. This means it will still be limited to the same thicker or convertible tablet form factors as its predecessor Hondo. According to the vendor, it also means the market will not see an AMD APU running at two watts or less until 2014.

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