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AMD is planning a 2W Brazos refresh for Windows 8 tablets

Foreshadows a challenge to Intel
Tue Jul 05 2011, 13:50

CHIP DESIGNER AMD is planning to refresh its Brazos platform in time for Microsoft's Windows 8.

AMD launched its Brazos platform last year, though actual products tipped up earlier this year featuring a dual core processor and a DirectX 11 GPU. However with Windows 8 coming out in 2012, it is a little surprising that leaked slides point to AMD planning a refresh of Brazos, codenamed Hondo. According to the slides, Hondo is designed to operate with passive cooling, and have 2W "app power" usage, about half that of the current Brazos chips.

AMD outlines Hondo as a "re-architected" chip from its Ontario accelerated processing unit (APU) core found in Brazos. AMD claims that the 2W "app power" rating applies when the chip has to cope with 720p video playback, with "wireless web browsing" drawing 1.6W. The thermal design power (TDP), or maximum power the chip will draw, will be less then 4.5W.

AMD says the 1GHz dual core chip will be fabbed at 40nm and have a DirectX 11 capable GPU that will be clocked at 276MHz. To support it there will be an updated Hudson Fusion Controller Hub (FCH), which has a TDP of 1W.

The cut in TDP is impressive and should put a little more pressure on Intel to ramp up its Oak Trail Atom production in order to make it a viable chip for tablets, come the arrival of Windows 8. The slides indicate that AMD will start sampling Hondo in December 2011 with production ramping up in the second quarter of 2012.

Although Intel has been chided for its absence in the tablet market, Hondo is the first AMD chip that looks like it might be able to challenge Intel for design wins. The question is if Intel can get its Oak Trail chips out the door and into the hands of tablet makers fast enough, because even though it doesn't have the graphics capabilities to take on Hondo and win, its TDP is 30 per cent lower and Chipzilla has said it expects to transition to a 22nm process node in 2012, further lowering power consumption.

We asked AMD to comment on the leaked slides but it said that it would not comment on rumour or speculation. µ


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