Processor and graphics giant AMD this week announced its latest series of Accelerated Processing Units (APUs). During its press conference as part of the Computex trade show in Taipei, speaker after speaker praised the chips, which combine video and processing capabilities on a single unit, as being the wave of computing's future.
AMD's new second-generation E-series APUs are intended for use in ultrathin laptops, and boast power efficiency that will result in improved battery life (up to 11 hours, according to company estimates), HTML5 acceleration and Windows 8 optimisations for powering next-generation software applications, Radeon HD 7000-series graphics (with DirectX 11 support) for better experiences playing games and watching video and integrated support for 6Gbps SATA III, USB 3.0 and SD card readers.
Chips announced today include the 1.4-GHz E1-1200 (which uses DDR3-1066 memory and has a GPU clocked at 500MHz) and the 1.7-GHz E2-1800 (which can use DDR-1333 RAM and sports a maximum GPU clock speed of 680MHz); both are dual-core Bobcat APUs, and both are aimed at inclusion in laptops priced below $600 (£388). Each chip also has the same 18-watt TDP.
Ultrathins using the new APUs are slated to be available soon from companies such as Acer, Asus, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.
The press conference, which was held in the Le Grand Ballroom of the Le Meridien hotel, was organized around the theme "Life more brilliant". It began with four short performances by actors representing each of the ways AMD products are used: watching (videos and movies), playing (games), creating (videos and other content) and sharing (all the things that are important to you). Various AMD executives then spent the rest of the 45-minute session expanding on these and showing how the APUs will contribute.
Graphics potential was a primary focus, which was unsurprising given how well the chips have performed in that department compared with Intel's releases. Demonstrations included a head-on-head match with the new video game DiRT Showdown and, as well as the use of Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Motion DSP to process high-resolution photos and video. In each case, an AMD APU competed with an (unspecified) third-generation Core Intel chip, with the performance of the latter always being found wanting.
Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's Global Business Units, referred to the current trends in technology as the "age of acceleration" and said AMD's goal is to have everyone "be a part of our ecosystem".
AMD President and CEO Rory Read concurred, and closed the press conference by taking that idea even further. He gave an animated speech that stressed the way consumer choice and usage patterns are steering the future of computing technology toward more powerful chips such as AMD's APUs, and how other elements of the tech industry will play a role.
"There's not a single application, not a single device on the planet that will not be affected by the cloud", Read said.
"For AMD it's not about innovation that defines the capability of the device", he continued. "Instead it's about how we unlock the capabilities of the individual. We're changing the world: one device, one APU at a time".