back to article AMD unveils 'sweet spot' processor for 'sexy' tablets

AMD has released its new Z-60 microprocessor – called in company parlance an APU, for accelerated processing unit – which it aims to squeeze into the Windows 8 tablet market above Intel's Atom line and below Chipzilla's lowest-power Core processor, the i3. The Austin, Texas, chip designers just might have a solid offering for …

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Anonymous Coward

Seems like a nice APU

Too bad about the OS. Oh well, at least on the non-ARM tablets should be possible to install a different OS, preferably something that doesn't look like a Fischer-price toy and isn't heavily locked down.

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Re: Seems like a nice APU

Who cares about the OS? If AMD can break the barrier between dedicated proprietary tablet hardware and x86 then good for them. Perhaps someone can then contribute some power-saving software tech back into the desktop linux kernel rather than hiding it in proprietary systems, all the better.

Let's hope its a bit more price-competitive than atom in the consumer market.

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@P. Lee "Who cares about the OS?" Indeed - the point here is surely that one can run.......

....the x86 os of your choice. I think that it is very much to AMD's credit that we could be looking at 10 mill tablets that are "full-song-with-choruses" computers which can run a full productivity os.

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These sound great. I just hope they can get them to market sooner rather than later as they will want to catch the early wave of Win8 sales. I'd like to see one of these in a hybrid.

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What about sticking them in a netbook running linux?

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If your not wanting to run legacy x86 code i don't see the point in having a x86 netbook running linux, Windows yes as Windows at the moment is so heavily invested in the x86 platform with lots of legacy code that won't run on ARM. But for linux you may as well get a ARM netbook as there are plenty of Linux distros for ARM available now and most common Linux programs have been recompiled for ARM and with ARM SOC available for <$15 it should result in lower costs.

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So, will the next iteration

... be a Z80?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So, will the next iteration

Yes, and it runs the latest descendant of CP/M, Windows 8...

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Z80

Re: So, will the next iteration

Don't call it a comeback

I've been here for years

Rockin my peers and puttin suckas in fear

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Anonymous Coward

I suspect that AMD are being economic with the actualite again..

This is basically a marketing spin on the E-series chip already out there in some netbooks and budget laptops, which are also 40nm.

Clock for clock, they are faster than the Atoms, but it does look like the Clover Trail atoms will be clocked high enough to leave these in the dust, with marginally better power consumption, too. The GPU part is slightly porky powered, also. AMD have a habit of being a little misleading about their low-end GPUs- here the 6000 series GPU is really no such thing, really being a 5000 series. There has been a history of their low end value integrated value GPUs not actually performing to paper spec also- either due to missing hardware or terrible drivers. A lot of DX11 games won't work properly at all with the low end integrated DX11 "capable" GPUs right now, giving a black screen on init.

It's interesting times, as Intel's integrated graphics hardware and drivers have historically been dreadful, but they have put a hell of a lot of work into them and now they're merely "poor", which makes them much more similar as a proposition to AMD's bargain basement stuff (which is generally the worst and least reliable part of their range).

Another black mark against this part, if you're designing a device, is that unlike the competing parts, the die for this is lacking a lot of the peripheral controllers on the die, meaning you have to make room for another chip in your board layout.

When you start to add these things up, and look beyond the somewhat optimistic press release, it looks a bit less tempting. I suppose the big hope for them is if AMD can get super yields and knock them out for bargain basement prices. Since the 40nm process is somewhat old hat now, here's hoping they can, and maybe there will be a place for these parts in budget skinny laptops or the odd x86 tablet. It depends on who, if anyone bites, and puts them in devices, whether they suck and whether they sell. This particular market segment is rather hard fought right now though, and very rough on mediocrity.

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kb
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Re: I suspect that AMD are being economic with the actualite again..

You've made a few mistakes AC, I'll be happy to correct them..

First of all because AMD uses turbocore and ramp up and down parts of the chip depending on the role their TDP naturally reflects that> I can tell you that on a year old 6 cell I'm getting 5 hours of video watching and 6 hours of websurfing on an E350 and that is a faster chip than this one, my customers with the C60 chips which i'm sure this is based on get between 6.5-7.5 hours depending on task, so any way you slice it they are getting respectable battery life on these systems.

Second the reason they changed the GPU series is because while its true the graphics core is based on the HD5000 series they have been adding the latest UVD acceleration and so the number reflects the same as which chips the current UVD is released on. i believe Bobcat next will have UVD acceleration from the HD7000 series so whether they change the shader cores or not that is what it pertains to. Since most people aren't buying these with gaming in mind, although to be fair i have run portal 2 and L4D just fine on mine and there are vids on YouTube of guys running Crysis 2 on an E350 they know that HD video is what most people are gonna want on these so that is what they are concentrating on. Personally i can see no fault to that logic, as while i might play a little LOTRO or Torchlight II when I'm out and about I do a LOT more video playing and having a tablet that does 1080P over HDMI? Sounds nice.

Finally AMD supplies the chipsets for their chips so you really only need one vendor to build an AMD device and their southbridges are quite nice and very small, especially on a Bobcat. Look up the Hudson chip and you'll see its smaller than your pinky nail yet gives you Sata 6, USB 3.0, they could even have an Expressgate slot on the tablet if they wanted as hudson supports that as well, its not a bad setup at all.

So I really don't think Intel will be very competitive in this segment, after all they don't want you buying tablets but Ultrabooks so they've been crippling the Atom for years and the latest rumors indicate this will be true of the next chip, with hard limits of 2Gb of RAM and several features turned off or not built in that the Celeron and above have. AMD on the other hand has never crippled the bobcat, all the features of their big brothers like Hyper-V, support for 8Gb of memory and full speed PCIe support is built in and its simply up to the OEMs which features they chose to have.

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Mini-ITX variant?

Anyone know if there's going to be a Mini-ITX motherboard sporting this chip (with a fanless heatsink). A quick Google didn't succeed.

I built my own almost silent always-on PC with a passively cooled Atom board a couple of years ago, but it's a bit slow. One of these looks like a perfect upgrade (along with an SSD to replace the HD). If I can get it as a board instead of a full tablet, that is!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mini-ITX variant?

Try using an E-350 or E-450 all in one PC. They are small, power efficient and more powerful then your Atom PC. Try this for a micro-ATX: ASUS E45M1-M PRO AMD E-450 / A50M Motherboard, and this if you want a mini-ITX: ASUS E45M1-I DELUXE AMD E-450 / A50M Motherboard.

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Re: Mini-ITX variant?

Thanks for the pointer to the ITX board. That's one heck of a passive heatsink! I'd assumed that these CPUs were slightly too hot to run with completely passive cooling. My current Atom gets pretty wam , and (from memory) it is about 10W less.

I'd still prefer a 4W CPU, though.

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Anonymous Coward

In a few weeks Vishera will be here

That's what I am waiting for. A 10-15% performance increase over Zambezi should make a lot of people happy, especially with fairly low prices to match.

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kb
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As someone who owns an E350

I have to say...I REALLY like these little Bobcat chips. I get 5 hours playing video, a little over 6 surfing, and that is with a battery that is over a year old. Heck the thing even plays Portal 2 and L4D just fine if I want a little mobile gaming goodness. Also unlike the Intel chips the Bobcat IS NOT CRIPPLED which means it can support 8gb of RAM (unlike 2Gb in the Atom) and has full virtualization support and all the power saving features. Again intel cripples atom to try to upsell you on a Celeron on Pentium, AMD doesn't.

So I have to say they are truly great little chips, and I've sold a lot of C50-C60-E350 netbooks and even laptops in my shop as well as using the E350 mini boards as small office units, truly great chips that just sip power and yet have enough GPU to give you full 1080P and HDMI for HTPCs or just enjoying some movies.

So while i never thought Bulldozer was a good design, its basically a server chip they tried to shoehorn into the consumer market, insult to the name FX if you ask me, on the other hand I have nothing but good things to say about the Bobcat. After having mine 6 months I sold my full size laptop, the E350 did everything I wanted a portable to do while only weighing 2.5 pounds with a 6 cell. And don't let the benches fool you, I've even set mine up in the band's practice space and used it to do playback and editing on multitrack audio, sometimes as many as 8 tracks, and the E350 handles the load just fine. Truly a sweet little chip and I can't wait to see what others they come out with. Hey AMD, can we have a quad Bobcat please? Maybe Asus could put one in a 12 inch EEE maybe?

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