AMD Unveils New Beema, Mullins APUs for Tablets, Ultrathins
SAN JOSE, Calif.—Advanced Micro Devices is continuing to take the covers off its chip plans for PCs and mobile devices.
On Nov. 11, AMD officials at the company's Developer Summit 2013 here announced that their long-awaited "Kaveri" low-power accelerated processing unit (APU)—which integrates both the PCU and graphics capabilities on the same silicon—would begin shipping to OEMs before the end of the year, and that notebook and desktop PCs running on by the low-power chips will start hitting the market in early 2014.
Two days later, the company unveiled two new APUs for such devices as fanless tablets, 2-in-1 systems and ultrathin notebooks, all devices that demand both solid performance and very low power consumption. Mark Papermaster, senior vice president and chief technology officer at AMD, introduced the upcoming "Mullins" and "Beema" APUs during a keynote address at the event Nov. 13.
According to AMD officials, the 28-nanometer systems-on-a-chip (SoCs)—both of which will include two to four "Puma" CPU cores and will feature Radeon graphics—will offer twice the performance-per-watt of the vendor's current "Kabini" and "Temash" chips, which were released earlier this year. Kaveri will run on the Steamroller core architecture.
The SoCs also will offer security features developed by AMD leveraging ARM's TrustZone technology found in the Cortex-A5 architecture, a partnership that was announced last year and has been extended to include AMD offering ARM-based server chips starting in 2014. The security capabilities will make online transactions, such as mobile payments, more secure, officials said.
The chips also will support Microsoft's instantGo technology for faster boot-up times for the systems and ensure that email and similar data are refreshed in standby mode.
AMD continues to drive down the power consumption of its chips to better compete with Intel and ARM in the area of tablets and such devices as ultrathin PCs and 2-in-1 systems, which was be used as both a traditional laptop and a tablet. SoCs designed by ARM and created by such partners as Samsung and Qualcomm are found in the bulk of smartphones and tablets.
As PC sales worldwide have slowed, Intel and AMD have looked to expand their reach into newer, more mobile and more power-efficient systems. Intel is relying primarily on its Atom platform, and officials have said that chips based on the new Silvermont architecture rival or exceed what ARM-designed chips can offer in both performance and energy efficiency. Now Intel just needs to convince OEMs to use its chips in their designs; the vendor got a big win in June when Samsung rolled out a 10.1-inch version of its Galaxy Tab tablet powered by a dual-core Atom.
AMD's Beema will consume 10 to 25 watts of power, while Mullins will go as low as 2 watts, according to the company. Officials said the chips will rival Intel's "Bay Trail" Atom SoCs in terms of power.
AMD CEO Rory Read has tagged ultraportable devices are one of several growth areas for the company, joining such other markets as dense servers, embedded systems and semi-custom chips. Company officials said the new Mullins and Beema chips will launch in the first half of 2014, and that systems running on the APUs will be demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 in Las Vegas in January.