AMD to launch something “mutated” on October 9

Tablet and keyboard dock with Windows 8 sunny side up, coming right through.

AMD Fusion LogoSo what just happened is that AMD posted a YouTube video and leaving a dead link which should be accessible from October 9th onwards, creating suspense about an upcoming product launch (or an announcement of an upcoming product launch maybe?) on October 9th.

The trick of putting their Trinity-based ultrathin notebook in an ATX tower case and showing it to play games is really not anything new as they’ve already done that trick, let alone the ‘touch it with bare hands’ technology. The point of interest is what the female recon team member exclaims afterwards. “It’s been mutated.”

“What do you mean it’s mutated?” “There’s something inside it!” “It’s not a laptop!”

Okay, enough suspense there. Ultra Low Power? Remember Brazos-T platform and Hondo APU? They are alive and kicking, though Wichita and Krishna were gone long ago. The APU receives the AMD Z-60 branding, coupled with the AMD A55T FCH.

The platform, the APU and the FCH were all derived from current generation of products, which includes the AMD Z-01 APU (Desna) and A50M FCH (Hudson-M1). What AMD did was remove a bunch of useless I/O that was useless in tablet form factor but still consumed power, reducing a few tens of milli-watts of power here and there. The end result was expected to be an APU with less than two Watts of application power consumption and a TDP figure of less than 4.5 Watts, and around 1 Watt TDP for the FCH.

So what exactly did AMD remove from the old platform? First, legacy stuff that is pointless on tablets, namely the D-Sub output and two USB 1.0 ports (which was intended for backwards-compatibility for keyboard and mouse), the number of USB 2.0 ports were reduced to 8. The multiple SATA connection and SATA 6.0 Gbit/s is power-hungry and pointless, so only one SATA 3.0 Gbit/s port was left for SSD. General purpose PCI Express lanes (on both APU and FCH) were also removed as WLAN/Bluetooth chips would be connected through USB 2.0 instead along with the cameras, the touch screen and card reader. The Unified Media Interface (electrically equivalent to PCI Express 1.1 for Zacate/Ontario/Hondo) between the APU and FCH was also reduced to x2 width instead of x4 on previous-generation products to further save power. Other improvements include a smaller footprint for FCH and fanless operation support for both APU and FCH to enable smaller and thinner designs. The end result is AMD’s tablet reference design with 2 GB DDR3-1066 memory, measuring 10 mm in thickness and a 4.8 Watts system total power consumption during 720p video playback, which goes down to 0.08 Watts when the system is at ACPI S3 sleep state.

With the usage scenario of tablets, users are expected to have their Internet connection resumed from suspension instantaneously. With secure digital I/O (SDIO) Wi-Fi card, always-on always-connected Wi-Fi connection can be achieved. On the security side, the usual Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is supported for Windows BitLocker disk encryption, while the platform also has check marks on malware protection and anti-theft for business and enterprise users. The platform also supports AMD QuickStream Technology, an Internet stream optimization and prioritization software from AppEx Networks, AMD APP Technology for parallel processing using DirectCompute and/or OpenCL, and Unified Video Decoder 3.0 (UVD 3.0) for GPU accelerated playback of HD MPEG-2/H.264/VC-1/DivX/XviD contents.

When it comes to the marketing-speak of “Experience”, what AMD tries to emphasize for their new tablet platform is the application compatibility on Windows 7 and Windows 8 will not be a problem at all, and PC-like experience will make the platform a premium choice over the Windows RT tablets with zero applications and zero software partners at launch. And the recent announcement of the public beta of BlueStacks player and the introduction of AMD AppZone means you can run over 500,000 Android apps on the new Windows 8 tablet, or easily and smoothly sync apps from the old Android tablet to the new Windows 8 tablet. Who doesn’t love a smooth transition?

Before we end, we come to the raw specifications part, which is as exciting as expecting a CPU to automatically install itself onto the motherboard without human intervention. But here goes:

AMD Brazos-T tablet platform (AMD Z-60 APU + AMD A55T FCH)

  • Dual Bobcat CPU cores, 1.0 GHz
  • Radeon HD 6250 Graphics, 80 SPUs/8 TMUs/4 ROPs, 276 MHz
  • Single-channel DDR3-1066 memory support
  • Single SATA 3.0 Gbit/s port
  • Two external USB 2.0 ports, and six internal USB 2.0 ports
  • SDIO for always-on, always-connected WiFi
  • TPM support for BitLocker
  • Malware protection
  • Anti-theft
  • AMD QuickStream Technology
  • MD Unified Video Decoder 3
  • AMD APP Technology: DirectCompute, OpenCL 1.1
  • Graphics API: DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1, OpenGL ES 2.0

When one couples all these with a keyboard dock that provides a physical keyboard and probably a few more USB ports, that’s the “mutated” thing. Is that positioned to tackle Intel’s craptastic Ultrabook with touchscreen? It’s up to the readers to decide. So the take home message is, AMD will soon launch this Brazos-T platform with Hondo APU and Hudson-M2T FCH to coincide with Windows 8 launch to promote premium x86 tablets, so it’s not anything technically beyond explanation and case closed.

The author wonders if Linux will get the love too… S|A

Editor’s note: It won’t get Linux, AMD is is working towards the closed ecosystem model.

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Leo Yim

Author at SemiAccurate
Leo Yim is our correspondent from the far flung reaches of East Asia. Fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and English he'd rather be talking about computers no matter what language. A true detail man he dreams of building gaming rigs from workstation class parts.