AMD Readies Fusion, Opteron Platforms for Windows 8

At Microsoft's BUILD conference, AMD officials announced drivers that will enable AMD-based devices to run Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 OS.

Advanced Micro Devices is not about to let rivals Intel and ARM Holdings get all the chip attention around Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8.

With Microsoft's BUILD conference going on in Los Angeles at the same time that Intel's annual developer forum is underway in San Francisco, most of the stories around Windows 8 and processors have focused on how the new operating system-due out in 2012-will run not only on x86-based systems, but also devices running on ARM-designed chips.

However, at the BUILD conference Sept. 13, AMD officials announced that their engineers developed drivers that will enable AMD-based devices-from PCs and servers to tablets and netbooks-to support Windows 8.

The new drivers mean that a wide range of AMD products-from the bulk of its Fusion accelerated processing units (APUs) to its Opteron server platforms and Radeon and FirePro graphics offerings-will run Windows 8, which Microsoft is designing not only for traditional systems but also the burgeoning tablet market.

The move is a continuation of a long partnership between AMD and Microsoft in developing technologies for systems that are increasingly smaller and offer greater performance and energy efficiency, according to AMD officials. The chip maker in January began rolling out its Fusion processors that offer high-level graphics integrated with the CPU on the same single piece of silicon. AMD is offering Fusion APUs for everything from mainstream notebooks and desktops to low-power devices and embedded systems.

The Fusion platform is getting strong adoption by OEMs and end users alike, according to Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's Product Group. Combining it with Windows 8 will only make the platform more compelling

"The unparalleled combination of AMD APU technology and Windows 8 will enable incredibly immersive and brilliant computing experiences," Bergman said in a statement. "With more than 320 design wins for our industry-leading APU technology to date, and a long history of innovation, AMD delivers the ideal platforms to bring Windows 8 to life on tablets, netbooks, notebooks and desktop PCs, leveraging the full performance of 64-bit x86 computing, the most pervasive and robust ecosystem."

In addition, the company earlier this month rolled out the first Opteron chips based on its new "Bulldozer" architecture, the Opteron 6200 Series-formerly known as "Interlagos"-which offers up to 16 cores.

The new drivers will cover the AMD Fusion Z-Series for tablets, C- and E-Series for ultrathin and mainstream notebooks and desktops, A-Series for high-performance laptops and desktops, and the upcoming AMD FX eight-core Black Edition for high-performance desktops.

Along with the FirePro and Radeon graphics offerings, the new Windows 8 drivers will cover its Opteron 6000 Series, which offer up to 12 cores, and its 4000 Series chips for lower-power servers.

Microsoft announced earlier this year that Windows 8 will run on tablets, and that it also will support the ARM architecture, which is the dominant chip architecture in the booming tablet and smartphone markets.

Both Intel and AMD are making pushes into the tablet space, and Intel also is looking to leverage its Atom platform in the smartphone businesses. Analysts and journalists have been talking about the strain on the historically strong Intel-Microsoft relationship as both are looking for a greater presence in the mobile-computing space.

Just as Microsoft has embraced the ARM space, Intel now also is partnering with a Microsoft competitor, announcing at IDF that it will work with Google to help optimize future versions of the search giant's Android mobile operating system for the Atom platform.