Tablet PCs are often viewed as devices to access certain content while travelling, but in a lot of cases they are used as electronic book readers or portable Internet devices at home. As they become more powerful and universal, they may become a gateway into the living room for x86 microprocessors, according to a vice president of Advanced Micro Devices.
"Tablets present a wonderful opportunity for AMD. I have been in the PC industry for over twenty years; we really have struggled to get into the living room and it is clear that tablets are finding their way into the living room, a real consumer experience," said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of products group at AMD, during a conference with analysts.
Indeed, slate PCs can be used to check out schedules of TV programs, find interesting YouTube videos (so to beam them to HDTVs afterwards) or simply to keep up to date with news or emails while watching TV or playing games. Until the TV-sets will not get smart enough, tablets may be the smartest portable devices in the living rooms.
"As these consumers start to utilize these tablets, they start to demand a better end-user experience, which invariably mean processing power, incredible graphics, incredible video, and a move up inside, higher resolutions and so on. Already, we are seeing a number of design wins, opportunities for us with Brazos today. Certainly, as we develop new products in that category, we will account for those new trends and the new market opportunities," added Mr. Bergman.
While AMD still has to unveil specifics of its roadmap for chips designed for tablets, it is generally believed that the company plans to release its first accelerated processing units (APUs) to power mainstream slate-type PCs in 2012.
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.