AMD announces Hondo processor for Windows 8 tablets

AMD announces Hondo processor for Windows 8 tablets

Summary: Windows 8 gives the x86 competition a fresh shot at the mobile market. With that mind, AMD announced a new Z-Series processor for Windows 8 tablets and hybrids. It will compete with Intel's recently-announced Atom Z2760 along with ARM-based tablets running Windows RT.

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TOPICS: Tablets
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AMD Hondo Summary

With the PC market on the skids, chipmakers are turning their attention to tablets. Today nearly all tablets use processors based on the ARM architecture, but the introduction, later this month of Windows 8, gives the x86 competition a fresh shot at the mobile market.

With that mind, AMD announced a new Z-Series processor, code-named Hondo, for Windows 8 tablets and hybrids. The Z-60 APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) has a 1.0GHz dual-core processor, two CPU cores and integrated Radeon HD 6250 graphics processor, which supports DirectX 11. AMD said the processor is currently shipping and tablets based on the platform later this year.

The Z-Series isn’t new, but to date AMD hasn’t had much luck in tablets (the MSI WindPad was perhaps the biggest win for the first generation Z-01). The Z-60 is a relatively minor update. It is based on the same Bobcat core and manufactured by foundry TSMC using the same 40nm recipe. The bigger changes will arrive sometime next year when AMD rolls out a new APU, code-named Temash, manufactured on a more advanced 28nm process. It will feature a new core design (code-named Jaguar), which will support new instructions, process more instructions per cycle, run at higher frequencies and incorporate new power management features, according to an AMD talk at a recent chip conference.

Until then AMD is largely focused on reducing power to fit the Z-Series into tablets as thin as 10mm (for comparison the latest iPad is 9.4mm). On its own reference tablet design, AMD said the total system power has been reduced to 2.9 watts when idle, 3.9 watts during Web browsing, and 4.8 watts during video playback. AMD says that is sufficient for about 6 hours of video playback or 8 hours of Web browsing, as well two weeks of standby power. The new platform also includes AMD's Start Now technology, a set of BIOS tweaks that it says reduce the boot and system resume times.

Competitor Intel has two solutions for Windows 8 tablets and hybrids: the recently-announced Atom Z2760 (also known as Clover Trail) and the ultra low-voltage Core i3 and Core i5 processors. (Here's a recent post on some of the Intel-based systems.) The Z2760, a direct competitor to AMD's Z-60, is a dual-core Atom, running at up to 1.8GHz, with an integrated graphics processor manufactured on the company's 32nm process. Intel claims Clover Trail will work in tablets as thin as 8.5mm and deliver 10 hours of video playback and more than three weeks of standby time. Intel has been developing its own technologies to allow tablets, convertibles and Ultrabooks to start-up more quickly and receive updates while in standby.

Both AMD and Intel are targeting "no compromises" tablets and hybrids that combine the mobility and user experience of the iPad with the performance and compatibility of a full Windows PC (AMD-based tablets should also be able to run some Android apps using the AppZone player based on the BlueStacks technology). These will compete not only with the iPad and Android tablets, but also with ARM-based tablets running Windows RT. It will be interesting to see, once Windows 8 launches, whether consumers will like the idea of a single, do-it-all device or whether they will continue to choose separate, best-of-breed tablets and laptops.

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Topic: Tablets

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4 comments
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  • A 1.0GHz dual-core processor with 6/8hr video/web is NOT impressive

    Maybe 3 years ago but not now. Who's going to want to sign on to a design with that?
    Johnny Vegas
    • Try one and compare it to the competition

      ARM and Atom processors at higher than 1GHz can't outperform AMD's at a lower clock speed.

      Clock speed doesn't mean anything anymore unless you are comparing identical families of chips. Windows 8 doesn't need a high-end processor either - but video certainly plays a big role.
      Joe_Raby
  • AMD Z-60 nailed the most powerful professional tablet in the market

    The key benefits that I see and which makes the AMD Z-60 a better choice for a professional tablet than ARM and/or Intel is that the AMD Z-60 APU is a 64 bit processor, it has a powerful GPU, it has usb 3.0, 1900x1200 resolution, DirectX 11, and it can run all Windows professional applications. Sure it consume a little more power, but having a larger GPU always consumes more power, but without a higher performance GPU, you can't run professional applications, high-end games, high-end 3d graphics applications.

    Intel's Clober Trail is just a 32 bit CPU processor (same as ARM), small GPU, only 1300x768 rsolution, only 2 GB of processor memory max, and only usb 2.0.

    AMD Z-60 nailed the most powerful tablet workstation in the market and the only one that can be used professionally.

    Hopefully this will help AMD to continue to turn around it's business and continue to innovate with high end APU's and high-end GPU's.. Very nice AMD..!!!
    aczdnet0
    • Huh?

      I agree that the Z-60 is a welcome switch from Atom and ARM, but don't forget that some OEM's will bring out Intel Core i5 tablets.

      I don't imagine they'll have quad-core tablets for a while (not for x86 anyway), but you might see Hyperthreading. And does anybody know if Samsung's Windows 8 prototype (the one that Microsoft gave out) has Intel VT with SLAT? If it does, I'd have to think that newer tablets would too.
      Joe_Raby