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6/2/2011
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AMD Intros Fusion Chip For Windows Tablets

The Z-series "Desna" accelerated processing unit supports hardware graphics acceleration in a low-energy design.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has announced a new Z-series Fusion accelerated processing unit (APU), code-named "Desna," aimed squarely at the Windows-based tablet market.

The first Z series chip, the Z-01, launched at the Computex trade show Wednesday, is already shipping to OEMs. It will debut this year in the MSI Windpad, which features a Microsoft Windows based OS. The Z series chips are specifically designed for Windows-based tablet designs coming to market soon. The chips support hardware graphics acceleration for Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft Office 10, and Windows 7 visual effects.

The chips feature two 1-GHz, AMD "Bobcat" CPU cores running at 1-GHz and 5.9 watts thermal design power (TDP). They also feature built-in Radeon HD 6250 graphics.

"We're very focused on aggressively growing our share in the client PC market and are actively pursuing the multimedia tablet and convertible PC tablet market space," said John Taylor, director of client marketing for AMD, in an interview.

In order to do this, AMD has been ratcheting up the energy efficiency of its APUs, with the release of new Fusion chips based on the Bobcat core designs this past January. The E-series chips, which include the dual-core E-350 and single-core E-240, are aimed at full-sized, lightweight laptops, such as HP and Lenovo models. The AMD C-series "Ontario" chips are dual-core C-50 and single-core C-30, which use half the power of their E-Series cousins. The E-series "Zacate" chips are aimed at netbooks and tablet computers.

"What this level of TDP wattage allows us to do, with additional work around thermal packaging and cooling, is to take an experience with multimedia and gaming and put in inside a passively cooled device," Taylor said.

The Fusion series of chips have been so successful that AMD ran out of stock of the processors during the first fiscal quarter of this year, Taylor said.

Later this month, AMD will unveil its A-Series of APUs, codenamed "Llano." The products will have four x86 cores and have higher energy efficiency than their predecessors, Taylor said. They are scheduled to appear in larger mainstream laptops and desktops, as well as notebook designs.

Both AMD and rival Intel are playing catch up in the tablet market, where ARM-based processors were found in 99% of tablets shipped last year, according to research firm IDC.

Intel targeted the tablet market with the release of its "Oak Trail" Atom chips in April. Intel said more than 35 Atom-powered tablets from a variety of computer manufacturers will be released this year. Until Oak Trail, Intel had not had low-power technology small enough to compete with ARM-based processors. IDC forecasts that ARM will only lose a few market-share points this year in the tablet market.

At the 2011 Computex trade show in Taiwan, Intel unveiled more than 10 tablets based on the next-generation Atom chip.

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