AMD shows off two new form factors at CES

CES 2013: All the shiny, none of the numbers

AMD - logoAMD had a press conference at CES and showed off two bits of hardware, both small form factor reference designs. One was a tablet with docks, the other a very small set top box concept.

First up we have two docks for AMD’s tablet, part of Project Discovery. The specs on the tablet are normally what we tell you about but those were totally lacking, the only thing we could find on the net about it was that it is 4K display capable and powered via DockPort. SemiAccurate thinks DockPort is a good idea and the recent news that VESA adopted it as a standard just confirms the potential.

AMD tablet gaming dock

One tablet to dock in them all

What you end up with is a 10 or so inch tablet that docks in to a cradle that makes it look like a big Sony PSP. The quality is high, the rez OK, and for a reference design it is damn solid. There is also a similar looking traditional dock/stand module with speakers good enough to cut through the CES background noise. Both have the potential to be one cable devices because of DockPort, and that could be a good thing if AMD ever decides to really support adult OSes.

The other form factor was the slim PC, more of a cross between a media center box and a cell phone. Once again it is a one cable solution with two boxes connected by a mini-DP link. The main box is a bit longer than a cell phone but not really thicker or wider and only has a camera and DP port. The secondary box resembles a matchbox more than anything else, about 1″ x 1.5″ x .25″ or so, you can see the scale from the DP and USB ports.

AMD micro-PC reference design

It is much smaller than it looks

If you think of the smaller box as a breakout box, or more of a remote ports thingy you are getting the idea right. Interestingly the video appears to come out of the smaller box, the DP cable to the ‘main’ device is power in and video out, from there it goes to the monitor via the full size DP out. It is a pretty slick design and was the only PC related “out of the box” thinking we saw in all of CES.

AMD also announced a tie up with Bluestacks for Android on PCs, something we can’t get excited about. AMD has chained their necks to the Windows millstone and thrown it overboard, Bluestacks won’t fix anything. Until they get real Android support and fix their Linux drivers, it will be hard to get excited about the underlying hardware. That said there were mercifully no references to how new PC form factors were going to stem the tablet wave.

Similarly there were three mobile GPUs launched in the usual way, IE without any specs. The press release links to general pages but neither actually give model numbers for us to tell you about much less specs. In short this announcement carries on the theme of the x86 vendors at CES, show stuff but don’t give out data under any circumstances.

In the end AMD showed off a lot of style but no substance. Like Intel before them it was all about use cases, don’t ask what is under the hood. If you wanted fluffy and shiny it was there with decent tech lurking under the hood but that wasn’t talked about. If you are wondering why PCs are a dying breed, this attitude is the cause, Windows 8 is just the icing on the cake.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate