AMD Unveils Z-Series Fusion Chips for Tablets

At the Computex 2011 show, AMD executives said the Z-Series chips, which are already shipping, are aimed at the Windows tablet market.

Advanced Micro Devices has now taken a full step into the tablet space, official unveiling its Z-Series Fusion chips at the Computex 2011 show in Taipei.

Word of AMD's new "Desna" APUs (accelerated processing units) aimed at the tablet market began to spread on the Internet May 31, and company officials made it official June 1. The chips, part of the company's 2011 HD Tablet Platform, offer two 1GHz "Bobcat" cores and a TDP (thermal design power) of 5.9 watts, according to a blog post by Phil Hughes, PR manager at AMD.

The Z-Series APUs are shipping now, Hughes said.

Tablets have been a dominant theme at Computex, which is not surprising given the number of vendors trying to get into the market that has soared since Apple introduced its first iPad last year. Research firm Gartner expects the market to grow from about 70 million units this year to 294 million in 2015.

AMD and rival Intel are both looking to muscle their way into the market, which currently is dominated by chips designed by ARM Holdings and made by the likes of Nvidia, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Samsung. Intel in April rolled out its Atom Z670 "Oak Trail" chips designed for tablets, and expects at least 35 system designs based on the processor to debut this year. During his keynote May 31, Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney stood on stage next to a wall displaying 11 Oak Trail-powered tablets.

Maloney also unveiled new Core processors and an aggressive roadmap for Atom designed to attack the tablet and smartphone markets.

According to early reports, AMD's Z-Series chips were being designed to address demands at both the consumer level-with low power consumption-and commercial space, with high productivity and security capabilities. The chips reportedly also will offer long battery life, with up to 10.5 hours.

A key difference is that AMD is focused-at least initially-primarily on the Windows 7 market. For its part, Intel also is showing off tablets that run Windows, Google's Android mobile operating system and MeeGo, the mobile OS Intel developed with Nokia. AMD also is boasting compatibility with smartphones, including Apple's iPhone, Microsoft's Windows Phone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices.

However, during AMD's presentation, Rosen Sharma, CEO of BlueStacks, also came on stage. BlueStacks is working on technology that essentially would bridge the gap between Android and Windows, which AMD's Hughes said would open up "new application possibilities in the amazing clarity and detail that only an AMD Fusion APU-powered tablet can offer."

Among the flood of new and updated tablets rolled out by MSI at the Computex was the WindPad 110W, which is powered by AMD's Z-01 APU, which offers two CPU cores and an AMD Radeon HD 6250 graphics technology, with 80 GPU cores. The tablet runs Windows 7.

Along with the Z-Series chips, AMD also unveiled the 9-series chipset, a component of AMD's next-generation "Scorpius" desktop platform, which also includes the eight-core "Zambezi" processor and Radeon HG6000 series discrete graphics card.