AMD wants a slice of the tablet market with Fusion

APU is the key to success

2011 SHOULD HOPEFULLY prove to be a big year for AMD, as it’s the year when its Fusion platform will launch and it seems like the company is already having high hopes for its new platform, so let’s hope it delivers. We’re not sure that AMD is aiming for the right market though, as it seems like at least some forces within AMD want to stick Fusion in a slate, or rather, tablet device.

UK website Techradar has had a chat with AMD’s VP of Marketing, Leslie Sobon, and she seems to be convinced that people want slate or tablet computers, since “the Apple iPad’s huge early sales [show] the public desire for tablet computers”. We’re not sure if this is the right indication to go by, as for one the iPad is an ARM powered device with much better battery life than any x86 device to date using a similar form factor.

Now we can’t argue with the following statement: “Think about the advantages you get from a power performance and a form-factor perspective when you can take GPU and CPU and put them on the same die.” But you still won’t end up anywhere near the power efficiency of an ARM device. Intel has already done most of this with its Pine View Atom processors and that design didn’t offer any huge benefits in battery life.

However, in AMD’s defense, Fusion will add a much more powerful GPU into the mix, and AMD seems to be putting some of its hope on the GPU rather than the CPU part of Fusion, especially when it comes to video and Flash content. AMD also seems to believe in Flash, unlike Apple and more recently even Microsoft, both whom seem to be more interested in HTML5. In all fairness, you’ll still need some decent hardware to watch HTML5 video as most HTML5 appears to be encoded in H.264.

Sobel is right about one other thing, too. People don’t care how it all works, just that it should work, even more so when you get to very consumer oriented devices. When it comes to online video, Sobel says that “[People] might not think of it as web video – they certainly don’t think of it as Flash – all they know is when they go to YouTube they want it to work.” Which is very true. We’ll see what AMD can come up with, but unless Fusion proves to be extremely power frugal, one has to question the comparison with the iPad.

On the other hand, if AMD manages to come up with something vastly better than Intel’s Atom platform, which will hopefully not be too difficult, it will not be too hard to see AMD eating away at the entry level of the x86 market. Intel is said to be adding some new features such as 1080p video playback and even WiDi support to its upcoming next generation Atom family, but is it going to be enough to compete with AMD’s Fusion? Well, we’re just going to have to wait and see. But we’re still not anywhere near a point in time when x86 based machines can compete with ARM processors when it comes to being power frugal.S|A

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