Since Intel ramped up its mobile chipsets a few years ago, AMD has been losing a lot of ground on laptops and tablets -- in the public mind at least. The company just announced the rest of its product roadmap for next year. They feature a significant power-to-performance efficiency improvement. Will it be enough?
Earlier this year, we got our first look at Richland, AMD's top laptop APU (Advanced Processing Unit, AMD's name for a microprocessor that acts as both a CPU and graphics processor). Beema and Mullins round out the lineup's low-power options for cheaper laptops and tablets.
Beema replaces last year's Kabini SoC, designed primarily for small notebooks two-in-one laptop/tablet hybrids. Mullins replaces the Temash on the very lowest end of the spectrum. It's designed for fanless tablets, laptops and convertibles. Both feature new "Puma" cores in either dual-core or quad-core configurations.
Better performance, less power, more security
The key spec that AMD is touting about its new SoCs is twice the performance per watt compared to the previous generation. According to the company, you'll be getting not just power reduction but a performance improvement, so it's not like AMD just cut wattage and kept performance flat. The new chips are the first to feature a new AMD Security Coprocessor, which is an implementation of ARM's TrustZone technology. This technology could have a number of applications, but it's basically an enterprise solution for creating trusted environments for a device.
We still don't have detailed specifications on Beema and Mullins, so it's hard to say how they might change the hardware they'll be implemented in. AMD says it'll be releasing bits of information leading up to CES where we can expect to see a big unveil. One thing the company was very clear about: These SoCs aren't designed for phones, so don't expect to see them in a handset anytime soon.