AMD has been a bit overshadowed at Computex this year by the onslaught of Intel-based Ultrabooks. But the company made some news of its own announcing its latest line of APUs, or Accelerated Processing Units. In a press conference AMD executives pitched the company's second-generation APUs as a better solution for affordable ultra-thin laptops.
The new E-Series APUs, code-named Brazos 2.0, are designed for budget notebooks and desktops. There are two E-Series dual-core chips, the 1.4GHz E1-1200 and the 1.7GHz E2-1800. The E2-1800 also has faster Radeon graphics. Aside from higher operating frequencies, the E-Series seems largely unchanged--it uses the same TSMC 40nm manufacturing process and has the same basic design. AMD said it sold 30 million of the first-generation E-Series APUs last year making it one of the company's most successful product launches. Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba will be offering systems based on the second-generation E-Series, according to AMD.
Brazos 2.0 follows the launch last month of five second-generation A-Series Trinity APUs for higher performance ultra-thins and mainstream laptops (the desktop versions will be released later this year). These are built using the same 32nm process as the first-generation Llano APUs, but Trinity has an entirely new design including a different CPU core, dubbed Piledriver, and the newer Northern Islands graphics.
At the press event, AMD Senior Vice President Lisa Su said that in comparison to the previous generation of A-Series processors Trinity provides twice the performance per watt and up to 12 hours of battery life. AMD did not provide any performance numbers for the new E-Series chips, but Su compared the battery life to Intel's second-generation (Sandy Bridge) Celeron and Pentium processors. AMD says laptops with the new E-Series will have up to 11 hours of battery life.
The strength of AMD APUs is graphics and the company gave several demonstrations. Marketing director John Taylor showed the performance of desktops and laptops with Trinity APUs versus Intel-based systems Codemasters' DiRT Showdown, a Direct X 11 racing game; Adobe Photoshop CS6, which has hardware-accelerated photo filters; and MotionDSP's vReveal video editing package.
This year's show is dominated by Ultrabooks including both traditional clamshell designs and convertibles. To date, these have been slow to catch on in part because prices are still too steep (Intel's goal is to get starting prices for Ultrabooks down to $699 by the end of the year). That is why AMD is pushing its APUs--and in particular the 17-watt A-Series processors--for more affordable ultrathins. The company claims AMD-based ultrathins will start at $599 and offer more than 10 hours of battery life.
To illustrate the kinds of systems that can use its APUs, Su showed a Compal design for a Windows 8 convertible tablet with a detachable 11.6-inch display. Most of the AMD-based laptops on display at the press conference, however, looked more like standard mainstream laptops.