AMD is getting ready to take the low-power, mobile platform fight to Intel, pulling the wraps off of three major APU (AMD's term for a CPU) lines for devices ranging in size from small tablets to powerful productivity notebooks. The new processors are designed to compete with Intel's Atom chip in lightweight tablets and hybrids while besting the Core i5 in larger laptops.
2013 AMD Elite Mobility APU
Formerly code-named "Temash," the AMD Elite Mobility APU will be available in both dual and quad-core versions with the part names A4-1200 (1-GHz, dual core), A4-1250 (1-GHz, dual-core) and A6-1450 (1.4-GHz, quad-core). Targeted squarely at Intel's current-generation Atom "CloverTrail" platform, the Elite Mobility APUs provide graphics performance that AMD says is nearly 5 times better and between one and 2.5 hours more endurance on the same tasks.
The Elite Mobility chips will also provide other key features that Intel Clovertrail lacks, including the ability to output 2560 x 1600 resolution to dual displays, DDR3 memory support, USB 3.0 ports and SATA II for faster storage. Some hybrid systems with Temash will also be able to connect to Turbo docks, which will allow them to reach 40 percent higher speeds as they get added cooling. We saw a number of intriguing prototypes based on Temash in February at Mobile World Congress and came away impressed.
2013 AMD Mainstream APU Platform
Targeted at low-end budget desktops, an area where AMD already competes aggressively with Intel, the Mainstream APU Platform chips promise longer battery life and significantly better graphics performance than you'll get with Intel Celeron, Pentium and Core i3 CPUs. Formerly codenamed "Kabini," this platform will have five models associated with it, ranging from the dual-core, 1-GHz E1-2100 to the quad-core, 2-GHz A6-5200.
AMD claims that Mainstream APUs will provide over 9 hours of web browsing enduance and more than 6 hours of 1080p video playback. At the same time, the company says that its Kabini chips provided much better FPS in Batman Arkham City and higher synthetic scores on 3DMark Cloud Gate.
2013 AMD Elite Performance APU Platform
Built for high performance and strong gaming, AMD's Elite Performance APUs are designed to compete with Core i3 and Core i5 processors in more expensive laptops. Formerly codenamed "Richland," this platform launches with 7 different models, ranging from the 2-GHz, 17-watt A4-5145M on the low end to the 2.5-GHz, quad-core A10-5757M on the high-end.
According to AMD, Richland APUs provide 7.5 hours of web browsing endurance along with significantly higher graphics scores than their direct competitors from Intel. For example, in AMD's tests, the A10 APU achieved a frame rate of 27 fps on Batman Arkham City while a Core i5 CPU managed just 16 fps. The same APU scored 939 on the 3DMark Firestrike benchmark while its competitor got just 550.
In addition to their high performance and power efficiency, the Elite Performance APUs can send data to up to 3 external monitors at once when attached to a dock. They also offer AMD's Wireless Display technology which is supposed to provide much lower latencies than Intel WiDi so users can play games on their HDTVs without noticeable lag.
With the Computex Taipei show just around the corner, we hope to see a number of new designs based on all three of AMD's new APU platforms. If the devices deliver the kind of battery life and graphics performance that AMD claims, the company could gain a much stronger foothold in mobile. However, AMD's main competitor isn't exactly sitting still as we expect Intel to release its next-generation chips later this year.