Tablets are the hot new thing. Research firm IDC says over 100 million slates will sell this year, and that number is expected to almost double by 2016. Right now, the market is dominated by ARM-based SoCs. Intel has a new Clover Trail version of its Atom processor primed for Windows 8 tablets. What about AMD?
We learned in April that AMD is working on a tablet-focused APU dubbed Temash. In addition to graphics derived from the GCN architecture underpinning the Radeon HD 7000 series, Temash will feature dual processor cores based on a new Jaguar CPU microarchitecture. According to PC World, AMD will release more details about Jaguar at the Hot Chips conference next month. The new CPU design will power not only dual-core Temash chips for tablets, but also quad-core Kabini variants that will trickle into notebook territory currently occupied by AMD’s Brazos processors.
The first Jaguar-based products aren’t expected until 2013, so they’ll be late to the Windows 8 party. AMD does have something up its sleeve for the first wave of Metro-infused tablets, though. A tweaked version of AMD’s Ontario APU should be out before the end of the year. Dubbed Hondo, this ultra-low-power part could cut Ontario’s TDP in half, reducing the chip’s thermal envelope to just 4.5W. It will be interesting to see if Hondo can hang with Clover Trail. Both chips will be able to do something that ARM-based SoC’s can’t: run the full-fat version of Windows 8 and x86 applications. That capability should prove particularly useful for notebook/tablet hybrids.