Advanced Micro Devices was late with chips for netbooks by about two years as it initially did not recognize their prospects, which naturally translated into domination of Intel Atom-based netbooks on the market. When it comes to tablets, AMD does acknowledge huge market potential of the new form-factor and plans to jump on the bandwagon sometimes in 2012.
As reported, the first-generation AMD's ultra-low-power platform based on accelerated processing units (APUs) code-named Brazos will employ Ontario and Zacate processors with 9W or 18W thermal design power, which is too high for handheld devices like slate personal computer. The second-generation APUs for ultra-thin notebooks, netbooks, tablets and other low-power devices - code-named Krishna and Wichita - will be made using a 28nm process technology, which will ensure considerably lower consumption of energy and dissipation of heat. As a result of that, AMD will position code-named Wichita APU for netbooks as well as tablets.
Specifications of Krishna and Wichita are unknown, but it is logical to expect Krishna to have two to four x86 Bobcat cores and Wichita to feature one or two low-power cores with reduced clock-speeds. Chekib Akrout, senior vice president of technology group at AMD, indicated during his keynote at AMD's financial analyst conference that 3W was a "sweet-spot" for tablets, hence, it may be expected that one or another version of Wichita will have power consumption of around that figure.
Some analysts estimate that in 2011 over 50 million of slates will be sold and the vast majority of them are expected to be ARM-based tablets. Nobody knows for sure how many x86-powered systems in slate form-factor will be released next year or in 2012, but it will depend on the quality of software as well as battery life of those innovative products.
While AMD will not be two years late with its chip for tablets, it will still be considerably behind Intel as well as various partners of ARM, who have been announcing their system-on-chips (SoCs) for powerful handheld devices for about a year now. As a result it remains to be seen how successful will AMD be with its Wichita chips on the market of PCs in slate form-factor.