Is AMD preparing to carve out a professional tablet market?

Is AMD preparing to carve out a professional tablet market?

Summary: The PC industry is stagnating, and the big players are looking for new markets to enter into. Is AMD positioning itself to enter the professional tablet market?


What does AMD have up its sleeve?

AMD has been on a hiring spree, picking two former Apple and Qualcomm engineers. This has led to suggestions that the Sunnyvale, California-based chipmaker is planning to carve out a professional tablet market.

(Credit: AMD)

Officially, AMD isn't talking about its plans, but what other companies do can give us a clue as to what AMD might be up to. At this year's SolidWorks World conference, Dassault Systèmes' chief executive Bernard Charles had the chance to see the SolidWorks software running on a prototype Fujitsu tablet featuring an AMD FirePro accelerated processing unit (APU).

FirePro is AMD's professional workstation graphics solution, aimed at computer-aided design (CAD) and digital content creation (DCC) professionals. Putting this graphics processing unit (GPU) inside a tablet transforms what is generally--but inaccurately--seen as a content-consumption device into a high-performance content-creation device.

AMD already has FirePro APUs listed on its website, the A300-series. This is aimed at entry-level and mainstream CAD and DSS workstations. These APUs are based on the "Trinity" architecture and have a TDP of 65W and 100W for the A300 and A320, respectively, which are far too high for tablet applications. This means that the APU running the tablet is a prototype, likely a modified "Hondo" part with professional graphics capabilities and certification.

This tablet gives AMD a massive advantage. While the likes of Nvidia and Qualcomm have ARM-based chips that can run Windows RT, AMD's APU would be able to run Windows 8 Pro along with regular desktop apps. This would give AMD an enormous advantage over the competition.

The question is, is there actually a market for professional tablets? If there is, AMD could be in a position to be the first to enter this new high profit margin sector.

Is this why AMD has been on a hiring spree?

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Tablets, Windows 8

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  • I think there is a market

    I'd certainly be interested in a tablet I could use in place of a laptop.

    AMD actually has an advantage over Intel here in that while they've made x86 family processors since the 1980s, they're not wedded to the architecture in the way Intel is. So they can make ARM processors without anybody taking it as an indication that x86 is being phased out.
    John L. Ries
    • The market existing doesnt matter. The PC market exists too. AMD is the

      problem. It doesnt really matter what theyre planning because they have been failing at everything theyve planned for so long.
      Johnny Vegas
      • How has AMD...

        ...been "failing" at anything?
        • If AMD uses this tech to improve current tablets

          At a competitive final tablet price (
  • I hope so

    But they have been behind Intel in performance and power efficiency for the past few years, so unless they can pull an ATI/ARM rabbit out of the hat, I don't see it.
    • Not That Bad...

      Their APUs are especially efficient when you take the GPU in account.

      The A10-5700, for example, packs four 3.4GHz cores (with turbo capability) AND a Radeon 7660D within a 65W TDP. That's pretty impressive.

      If they could just do some magic with the mobile APU within a
      • Oops - Parser Glitch

        (Does not like lower-than sign)

        If they could just do some magic with the mobile APU within a below 5W TDP would be great.
  • This is extremely important in the tablet market

    When you consider that most CAD workers already work with expensive digitizer LCD panels for the desktop (namely Wacom), bringing stylus input to the smaller screen makes the price-of-entry for digitizer LCD's for professional use (and don't forget: mobility) to a new mainstream price market for smaller architect and engineering businesses.
  • hmm

    I don't understand. Does this mean that they'll be creating something to compete against haswell in the tablets that can run photoshop well space?
  • Get quad core Temash in a tablet (please)

    AMD has a lot going for it when it comes to its hardware. If the Temash line is as good as what AMD makes its to be, then it won't just be the professional market that will be gunning for hardware with these processors. I would buy this over any of the junk (ATOM) that Intel throws out. A small compromise on the battery life isn't much if the tablet remains cool under decent sized workloads.
    • Atom Versus APU: Personal experience

      I have a number of Atom boards, excess stock from work. I also have several AMD boards with the M450 APU on them. Which one works best?

      I can play some fairly graphics-intensive games on the M450 which cannot be played on any of the Atoms. The M450 doesn't compare to the higher-end gaming machines, but the fact that it can handle many of the games is compelling. But the atoms, simply can't handle these tasks at all well.

      But my company got the atoms to be low power micro-servers. In that regard, they outperform the M450. The Atoms handle more compute-intensive operations much better than the AMD counter-part where as the AMD handles less more graphics-intensive operations much better. So it's really a matter of what you want to do.
  • Video of AMD FirePro APU tablet running SolidWorks 2013

    YouTube video of the professional Z-60 APU tablet running Windows 8 and a full version of SolidWorks 2013.
  • Big fan of AMD

    I have always been a big fan of AMD. Their processors are incredible, and they are innovative. Proof of that was the 64 bit processor. I have an Acer tablet that runs on AMD processor an another on Intel. Fast as a bullet is the AMD. It is a little too thick, though but not heavier. The BYOD era has started. AMD has a big chance - that is when the old IT people who dealt with the old and hot AMD processors many years ago retire or at least give it a try.