AMD formally announced its Z-60 "Hondo" APU this morning as it attempts a second stab at the tablet market. The chip uses the same basic architecture as the current E-series APUs found in AMD-powered netbooks and low-end laptops, but optimized further for low-power consumption. All in all we’re looking at a 1.0GHz dual-core processor with integrated Radeon HD 6250 graphics and a TDP ranging from 2.9W while idle to 3.9W during web browsing to 4.8W during video playback, according to AMD’s reference design tablet.
Compared to the latest Intel Atom “Clover Trail” processor it will be competing against, the Z-60 supposedly offers five to six times better graphics performance and can play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 at 1024 x 768 resolution at 30 frames per second. Additionally, AMD’s 6000-series GPU offers Direct3D 11, OpenGL 4.1, and OpenCL 1.1 support, HDMI and DisplayPort output support, resolutions up to 1920x1200, and video acceleration support for codecs like MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264, and VC-1.
On the other hand, whereas Intel claims Clover Trail can manage 10 hours of HD video playback and more than three weeks of standby time, AMD lists about 6 hours of video playback or 8 hours of Web browsing as well two weeks of standby power. They may also run a bit hotter than Intel’s chip. The latter is promising 8.5mm thin Windows 8 tablets using Clover Trail, while AMD’s Hondo is targeting a more conservative 10mm.
It’s worth noting that unlike Clover Trail or ARM, Hondo is not a system-on-a-chip and requires a second Fusion Controller Hub (FCH) chip to provide USB, SATA, and other functions, taking a bit of extra space.
Of course the biggest challenge for both AMD and Intel will be to get their latest chips into tablets from major manufacturers. So far the market is vastly dominated by ARM-based devices running either iOS or Android, but the upcoming Windows 8 presents a real opportunity for x86-based chips to start gaining some ground.
Intel claims it has 20 Clover Trail tablet or tablet-like systems on the way, while AMD is only says that it will have products on shelves around the time Windows 8 launches and a "plethora of designs" next year.
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