AMD's dreams of a tablet PC future may be a step closer than anyone realised, with reports of Acer and MSI both ordering quantities of the company's upcoming Z-series low-power accelerated processing units.
Although the battle between British chip design giant ARM and American behemoth Intel has generated the most column inches, it's no secret that AMD wants to get in on the tablet PC game. At the company's recent Computex press conference, it showed off a slide detailing its next-generation APUs for low-power devices which it hopes will offer real competition to Intel's Atom and the ubiquitous ARM Cortex-A9.
The Z-series is due for launch this year, and represents AMD's long-rumoured and oft-denied tablet computing platform. According to details released at Computex, the Z-series APUs will include the same DirectX 11 graphics capabilities as their laptop and desktop counterparts, albeit at a lower performance point.
Hardware acceleration for Adobe Flash 10.2, HD-quality videos, Internet Explorer 9 and HTML5 are also pegged to be included. The upshot is a series of Windows-based tablets that could prove seriously popular among users who find devices running Google's Android or Apple's iOS restrictive.
The best technology in the world is no good without customers, however. An as-yet unsubstantiated report from industry rumour mill DigiTimes suggests that AMD has little to fear on that score, with Acer believed to be taking shipment of 80,000 Z-series APUs for a range of upcoming enterprise-grade tablet devices.
If true, Acer joins MSI in planning AMD APU-based tablets and, while two new players in a rapidly-growing market isn't too impressive, it's a good start. The proof, however, will be in the performance-per-watt metrics: if AMD's Z-series can offer better performance than the Intel Atom for the same power draw, then Intel's fight to gain ground against ARM is in serious trouble.
Thus far, neither AMD nor Acer have responded to requests for comment on the matter.