AMD Gives CES Attendees a Glimpse of the Future

Among the technologies AMD showed off is a super-thin PC about the size of a business envelope running on its upcoming "Mullins" APU.

Advanced Micro Devices officials at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week announced that the much-anticipated "Kaveri" chip for PCs will launch Jan. 14 and noted planned upgrades to other processors and graphics cards.

However, it was the planned technology further down the road that seemed to generate even more interest, with AMD officials giving CES attendees an idea of how they envision the computing landscape shaping up over the coming months.

Some of that included prototype systems based on the company's upcoming ultra-low-power Discovery Project, designed to drive innovation in PC and tablet design, as well as a partnership with software maker BlueStacks to enable users to run an Android environment and Windows on the same system without having to reboot.

Such initiatives are designed to address the broad array of computing devices being used by both consumers and businesses users, and to challenge Intel's dominance in the PC chip space, according to AMD officials.

"We live in an exciting new world where computing is everywhere and transforming our daily lives," Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's Global Business Units, said in a statement. "AMD is at the heart of the innovations, driving a vision of 'Surround Computing' to provide the most visually compelling, immersive experiences in gaming, the next-generation of PCs, and the cloud."

Su led AMD's presentations at CES, reportedly not only touting her company's products but also minimizing Intel's low-power Atom "Bay Trail" products, which the larger chip maker introduced in September 2013 at its Intel Developer Forum.

Among the prototypes AMD unveiled was a super-thin PC form factor that holds a Mullins chip, a solid-state disk (SSD), Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, and a Webcam. The system looks about as thin as a smartphone and is about the size of a business envelope. According to reports, AMD officials have no plans to sell such a PC itself, but rather plan to use the device as a reference architecture that OEMs can use.

The thin form factor echoed what Intel officials showed off at CES, particularly the Edison computer, which runs on the company's small, low-power Quark system-on-a-chip (SoC) and is housed in an SD card form factor. Like AMD, Intel officials hope system makers will use the Edison computer as the foundation for a range of new devices.

AMD also showed off a reference design for a tablet, part of the Discovery Project. The 11.6-inch tablet also is powered by a Mullins chip and runs Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system, and comes in at 10 mm thick. According to AMD officials, the prototype can be used by OEMs to build their own devices leveraging the chip maker's APU technology.

In addition, the tablet shows off what the APUs can do in a mobile device and gives the vendor a platform for demonstrating the capabilities in its new DockPort, which is designed to enable users to connect as many as four external devices to a tablet and then sync them.