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AMD Temash, Kabini, Richland: new chance?

The new AMD APUs show promise, but the manufactures will have the last word.

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Introduction

Today AMD announced three new platforms called Temash, Kabini and Richland. These promise improved energy-efficiency and higher performance, and add a number of features that are supposed to make our lives easier. We'll take a closer look at them in this article, examining the innovative features to see whether AMD can compete with Intel's upcoming chips.


AMD is fully aware that the most important market for processors is the mobile segment, and no longer the high-end extremely fast PC systems. The challenge for AMD is that it waited relatively long before focusing on that segment, but it's not alone.

It perhaps wasn't the smartest move of AMD to sell its mobile graphics division to Qualcomm in 2008 (there's a reason why its Adreno chips are an anagram of Radeon). Intel also took its sweet time before placing an emphasis on the mobile market, but where Intel's strength is its superior production process and the low energy consumption of its chips, AMD is choosing a different approach.

While it's partially out of necessity (AMD sold its own manufacturing plants and can therefore no longer invest directly in smaller transistors), it doesn't make its strategy any less interesting. AMD is counting on the fact that better and more efficient manufacturing processes will develop even without its own direct investment, and this assumption is proving to be correct. It guarantees improved energy-efficiency in the future, even if AMD wasn't changing the architecture of its chips - which it of course is doing.

It does leave room for working towards a system architecture that AMD believes can be the holy grail for future computer platforms, chips where the CPU and GPU are two halves of one whole, with shared systems resources and the capability to seamlessly exchange data without interruptions.

AMD calls it the 'Heterogynous System Architecture' (or HSA), a term that's been present on AMD's roadmaps for a while now. It's step-by-step approach, and the envisioned end goal will be achieved only after a number of future chip generations. The reason for this is that developers and programmers have to take a different approach in order to take advantage of the potential advantages of an HSA. This entails a period of education and learning, things that will take time and effort on the part of AMD. AMD will have to collect as many supporters as possible and think of as many examples as possible of how this will improve the computing experience.

The three new platforms that were announced today contain features that do exactly that. Motion control, authentication by means of facial recognition, wireless monitor connections and HD video quality. AMD also claims the new platforms can compete in terms of energy efficiency and performance.

AMD Temash, Kabini, Richland positionering
How AMD views Temash, Kabini and Richland: for powerful tablets, hybrid 'productivity' tablets/laptops and affordable, powerful and thin notebooks.


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