Computex 2011: No Llano launch as AMD focuses on tablets

Summary:The surprise at AMD's Computex press conference today was as much what the company did not show as what it did discuss. The Llano processor, the company's first mainstream APU and its first 32nm processor, was largely a no-show.

The surprise at AMD's Computex press conference today was as much what the company did not show as what it did discuss. The Llano processor, the company's first mainstream APU and its first 32nm processor, was largely a no-show. Instead AMD announced a new line of APUs for tablets, known as the Z Series.

AMD sought to put the best possible spin on the lack of Llano. Company executives said that Llano has been shipping to customers and will be launched at a separate event in mid-June.

"We're done with Ontario. We're done with Llano now. We're busy working on the next greatest thing," said Rick Bergman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of AMD Products Group.

To illustrate this, he held up what he said was one of the first Trinity APUs, the processor that will replace Llano in 2012. AMD did confirm that the Llano APUs would be branded the A Series and available in A4, A6 and A8 versions, but these details were already widely known.

Bergman also said that AMD's high-end Zambezi processor, which is a traditional CPU designed for systems with discrete graphics, was "looking great" (though he offered no details) and added that the Orochi server version was on track for release in the third quarter.

AMD did announce the 9 Series chipset, which supports system with the Zambezi processors. It is available now and will start showing up in motherboards from AMD's customers next month.

But the news was the Z Series APU for tablets. Many details of the Z Series had leaked out ahead of Computex, but there were a few new details. The first Z Series APU, code-named Desna, will operate at less than 6 watts and will be designed for Windows-based tablets.

"I'm sure many of you are skeptical about the success of Windows in the tablet world," said Chris Cloran, AMD's Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Computing.

Although Z Series tablets will be designed for Windows, some may also run Android. Rosen Sharma, the CEO of a start-up called Bluestacks, came onstage to demonstrate how the company's software could run both Windows and Android on the same Brazos-based tablet. The demonstration was very brief, though, and others who have seen the software in action on the ViewSonic ViewPad 10Pro on the show floor have been less than impressed.

AMD did not say how many design wins it had for the Z Series. Desna will be replaced, in 2012, by a new APU for tablets know as Hondo. And the low-power Ontario and Zacate APUs, which shipped earlier this year and has notched 165 notebook and desktop design wins according to Cloran, will be replaced by Krishna. AMD did not provide any new details on these 2012 APUs.

Several AMD customers came onstage to show existing and new products that use Fusion APUs including the Acer Iconia W500 tablet, Asus N Series laptop, HP Pavilion dm1 and Pavilion dv Series, Lenovo ThinkPad Edge series and (very briefly) an MSI tablet.

Ultimately the delay of Llano's launch for another few weeks probably doesn't make much difference as long as AMD doesn't miss the back-to-school season. Right now there's no indication that it will. But given its long gestation period and prior manufacturing delays, Llano was conspicuous by its absence at Computex.

[Update: While I was surprised that AMD did not formally launch Llano at Computex, this APU has been shipping to customers since at least early April and AMD notes that the formal launch will occur before the end of the second quarter as scheduled.]

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Processors, Servers, Tablets

About

John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine. He now works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are... Full Bio

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