With the launch of the AMD's aptly named Fusion processor combining both the CPU and GPU on a single die of silicon (with built-in DirectX 11 support), both HP and Toshiba are unveiling a number of laptops today that take advantage of this new chip design at budget-friendly prices.
The Fusion Accelerated Processing Units (APU) makes HD quality graphics video playback at 1080p affordable by improving on the processor's speed due to its integrated design, which results in longer battery life for laptops (10 hours or more) and reducing the number of components that used to be separate on the motherboard. According to Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, AMD Products Group, "In one major step, we enable users to experience HD everywhere as well as personal supercomputing capabilities in notebooks that can deliver all-day battery life."
Unfortunately, there aren't many benchmark tests available comparing the performance of Intel's second-generation Sandy Bridge CPUs with the latest from AMD, but according to gaming test results obtained by TechPowerUp back in May:
Going by the test results, AMD certainly achieved what it set out to, which is to use its immense GPU-engineering potential to lift up its CPU business. The A-Series APUs should make a formidable option for home desktop buyers who require strong graphics for casual gaming, cost the same as Intel's dual-core SandyBridge, and give four x86-64 cores for the same price.
Both HP and Toshiba are incorporating AMD Fusion APUs into their budget-friendly consumer laptops, which promise great graphics quality at affordable prices.
Toshiba's AMD Fusion Laptops
The Toshiba Satellite C600 series is particularly well priced, starting at just $379, which puts it in direct competition with sub-$500 netbooks. While netbooks are highly compact, the C600 laptops are anything but; it comes equipped with the popular 15.6" or 17.3" widescreen display and a full-sized keyboard that includes a numeric keypad. These laptops are powered by the AMD C-50 (designed for netbooks) and E-350 (designed for mainstream laptops) APUs so it can handle HD content without draining the battery, with up to 640 GB of hard drive, 4 GB of RAM, a DVD Super-Multi drive, Wi-Fi connectivity, but only two USB 2.0 ports. This would make a fine computer for someone who prefers a larger screen that is unlikely to bring the laptop to Starbucks, but would like the option of moving it from room to room at home or in the office when necessary.
Satellite L700 laptops are definitely more portable and powerful, offering a range of TruBriteHD widescreen displays from 13.3" to 17.3", with some models using the AMD Fusion dual-core A4 or quad-core A6 APU instead of the Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs. Some models will also sport a Blu-ray player and HDMI port, but all have the USB Sleep & Charge technology where devices can be charged using the laptop's battery power even when it is turned off. L700 laptops start at $449 for the 14".
These AMD powered laptops will be in store and online (toshibadirect.com and e-retailers) later this month.
HP's AMD Fusion Laptops
HP's entry level (g) and entertainment (dv) Pavilion laptops, on the other hand, are available in 14", 15.6" and 17.3" configurations
The g series will feature either the AMD Fusion APU E-Series like the Toshiba C600, or the dual-core A4 chip like in the Toshiba L700, according to HP but it did not offer more details. Its g4 14" model starts at $449, the 15.6" g6 will cost $498, while the 17.3" g7 will be priced at $499, which will give netbook users more options when shopping for a mobile computer with great battery life and HD graphics in the sub-$500 price range.
HP's dv laptops are definitely a step up from the g series in that the 15.6" dv-6 model will use the AMD quad-core A6 APU, while the 17.3" will use the A8 chip, as those processors are designed for "mid-range and high-performance notebooks" according to NotebookReview. The dv laptops' graphics performance are apparently more than twice as good as the previous-generation's integrated graphics, which makes this line a bargain starting at $599.99 for the 15.6" dv-6 model.
All the Pavilion laptops also offer the optional dual graphics technology that can help conserve battery power by reverting to single-graphics mode when the user is just checking emails for example. These AMD powered notebooks will be available in stores starting July.